U.S. Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest (R - 1st District, MD) has begun to call for Congressional hearings to investigate the environmental impact of commercial aviation. Two environmental threats, in particular, are of interest to him: 1) toxic chemical runoff associated with aircraft deicing operations and 2) midair fuel releases from commercial aircraft.
In each case, the Congressman found it indefensible that neither the FAA, state aviation officials, airport operators nor the airlines, themselves, had any information regarding the quantities of fuel and chemical deicers released into the environment or their precise chemical composition. He believes that hearings can be helpful to both lawmakers and the public in their attempt to assess the magnitude of the problem.
Environmental damage attributable to toxic deicing chemicals came to the Congressman's attention as a result of a Federal lawsuit filed jointly by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Humane Society, the Airport Environmental Coalition, and U.S. Citizens' Aviation Watch against the Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport. BWI is located in Rep. Gilchrest's district. Chemical runoff from BWI had drained for years into Sawmill Creek in Glen Burnie, killing all aquatic life, threatening nearby residents, and likely contaminating the public drinking water aquifer for northern Anne Arundel County.
Midair fuel releases by commercial aircraft have likewise gained public attention in Rep. Gilchrest's district. It first became an issue when, earlier this year, a World Airways flight inbound to BWI dumped 14,000 gallons of jet fuel on the Arthur Slade Middle School playground in Glen Burnie, MD. This incident prompted Maryland State Delegates Michael W. Burns (R) and James E. Rzepkowski (R), both of the 32nd District, to sponsor legislation in the General Assembly to force BWI to monitor and disclose fuel dumping incidents. The airport vigorously opposed the bill as "too expensive" and "unworkable". Recently, an examination of FAA regulations and admissions from commercial pilots indicate that, rather than being a rare phenomenon, fuel dumping might be a commonplace. If so, it is an area ripe for regulatory and/or legislative intervention.
Please contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to register your
support for hearings on the environmental impact of commercial aviation. In
so doing, please favorably mention Rep. Gilchrest and encourage your congressmen
to contact his office for additional information relating to this topic.
For help locating and e-mailing the legislators in your district go to: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Also, please contact Rep. Gilchrest's office YOURSELVES, and thank him for his call for hearings as reported in the Baltimore Sun on March 25th. The Congressman can be reached at:
Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest
332 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5311
Fax: (202) 225-0254
PS: Gilchrest's Chief of Staff is Tony Caligiuri