US-CAW ACTIVITIES: US-CAW and other environmental
organizations reach settlement on lawsuit regarding deicing fluid use at O'Hare
CHICAGO (June 17, 1999)-- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
United States Citizens Aviation Watch (US-CAW), the Alliance of Residents
Concerning O'Hare (AreCO), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and
the City of Chicago announced today that they have settled claims made by NRDC
and the other groups. NRDC and the other organizations had claimed that the City
was in violation of the reporting requirements of the Comprehensive
Environmental Resonse Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA), the Emergency
Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), and the Clean Water Act (CWA)
with regard to deicing operations at O'Hare International Airport. The City of
Chicago had denied the allegations and disagreed with the organizations'
interpretations of the reporting requirements of these acts. Under terms of the
settlement agreement, the City will report the use of ethylene glycol-based
deicing fluids at O'Hare.
The main concern of NRDC, which had given
legal notice of intent to file suit against the City and one other airport last
year, involved the reporting of ethylene glycol. NRDC and the other
organizations claim that ethylene glycol can be harmful, and even deadly, when
ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. The threat of a suit was
necessary, the groups maintain, because O'Hare was allegedly not satisfactorily
reporting the use of ethylene glycol to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The suit was not filed because of the City's willingness to report and to
explore using other deicing chemicals that the groups consider less toxic.
The City is already in the process of constructing infrastructre
improvements to collect stormwater runoff, which contains deicing fluids, and to
prevent the release of the fluids to the environment. The City estimates the
cost of the improvements to be in excess of $80 million.
agreement is a step in the right direction, we hope it leads to an actual
reduction in the amounts of deicing chemicals used at the airport. The City now
has the oppportunity to be an example to airports nationwide by exploring the
use of alternative deicing fluids and opportunities for recycling deicing
fluids," said Nancy Marks, senior NRDC attorney.
Mary Rose Loney was pleased with the agreement. "The use of deicing fluids is of
paramount importance to the safety of the traveling public. We are hopeful that
this agreement will help in finding effective ways of limiting any environmental
impacts that could result from the use of deicing fluids," said Loney. "While we
disagreed with NRDC's interpretation of the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and EPCRA,
we agree with them that the community should be better informed about
environmental progress at O'Hare."
The recycling of deicing fluids used
at airports and limiting their release into the environment is a nationwide
concern for citizen groups: "Cumulative exposures to deicing fluids and their
chemical components present a major concern to human health, animal welfare, and
the environment," asserts Jack Saporito, president of US-CAW and AreCO.
"Eventually, we hope to find ways to totally eliminate all releases of these
toxic chemicals to our environment."
Patricia Lane, an attorney for
HSUS, added that, "Ethylene glycol is know to be lethal to animals when
ingested. Animals are naturally attracted to this sweet-tasing chemical. The
fact that the City is now investigating possible ways to limit use of this toxic
chemical is a tremendous step in safeguarding animal welfare."
of the agreement, the steps being taken by the City include:
testing of at least four runway deicing fluids (RDF), and in-field pilot tests
on at least one alternative RDF during the 1998-1999 deicing season.
Performing a review of the aircraft deicing fluid recycling efforts currently
being undertaken by at least six major airports across the country where
significant deicing occurs.
3) Preparing and distributing a Request for
Proposal (RFP) inviting proposals from third parties to collect and recycle
deicing fluids at O'Hare. Accepted proposals can be impelemented during the
1999-2000 deicing season.
4) Investigation alternative products and
technology to reduce the use of deicing fluids.