CAIR Press Release on De-icing Fluid and the TPA

By Wednesday, January 8, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0

 logoCommunityAIR – working towards a clean, green waterfront

           “Tight Physical Constraints” at Island Airport

            Means Proper De‑Icing Facility Impossible

            Hazardous De‑Icing Fluid Dumped in City Sewer


For Immediate Release Tuesday, January 7, 2014

                      Contact:  Brian Iler, Chair

             416-835-4384 (cell)
                         416‑598‑0544 (work direct)


A Porter Airplane shedding de‑icing fluid (yellow‑green on wings) into Toronto’s harbour as it takes off on Christmas Day: Photo by Dennis Bryant

A recently-released draft Master Plan[i] for the Island Airport says tight physical constraints at Toronto’s Island Airport make provision of a proper de-icing facility impossible.

Here’s what the Plan states:

The runoff of effluent from the de-icing operation is captured at catch basins located strategically on the apron and directed to below-grade storage facilities. From there, the runoff is released to the municipal sanitary system….Given the tight physical constraints of the airport, particularly in the vicinity of the terminal building, there is no opportunity to provide a centralized de-icing facility [at page 15].

Lester B. Pearson Airport has a centralized de‑icing facility where the toxic fluid is captured and recycled[ii].

“Another reason why expansion of the Island Airport is a bad idea: there is no room for proper de-icing facility.” said Brian Iler, Chair of CommunityAIR. “Instead, the Port Authority dumps it into the sewer, in breach of the Tripartite Agreement.”

De-icing fluid used at the Island Airport is, according to TPA CEO Geoff Wilson[ii]

“collected through a series of catch basins on the main apron which is separate from the storm water drainage sewers and discharge areas. From the catch basin, the drainage flows to the Island’s sanitary treatment facility…”

Dumping de-icing fluid into the sanitary sewer system is contrary to the Tripartite Agreement[iii] :

“The Lessee shall not discharge, cause or permit to be discharged or howsoever to pass into the sewer systems, storm drains or surface drainage facilities at the demised premises, if any, or elsewhere any noxious, contaminated or poisonous substances…”

De-icing fluid is commonly composed of ethylene glycol and toxic additives. The US Environment Protection Agency states[iv]:

Aircraft de-icing/anti-icing fluids (ADFs) typically contain water, glycols, and additives. The toxicity exhibited by ADFs is due in part to the presence of glycols (which typically make up approximately 45% to 65% of the total fluid by weight when applied), but is also due to the additives contained in the fluids. Although additives comprise a small percentage of ADFs (e.g., less than 2%), they may be responsible for a disproportionate share of the toxicity of ADFs.

… The identity of the actual chemicals used as additives is not known because the ADF manufacturers claim this information confidential.

“Whether a proper de‑icing facility is provided or not, de‑icing fluid on an aircraft will be shed by it as it takes off. The presence of the Island Airport in the midst of Toronto’s waterfront means these chemicals are shed into our harbour.” added Iler.

CommunityAIR wrote to Porter’s CEO Robert Deluce about de‑icing fluid in 2010:

Sent: March 9, 2010 11:35 AM

Yet another breach of the Tripartite Agreement

In the recent CITY-TV story, your Brad Cicero is quoted as saying:

“As far as de‑icing goes, that is all done in areas that have full containment so there is definitely no runoff on those locations,” Porter Airlines spokesman Brad Cicero said.

What happens is that the de‑icing fluid is collected and then pumped into the City’s sanitary sewage system. This is contrary to the Tripartite Agreement that states, in paragraph 20:

“The Lessee shall not discharge, cause or permit to be discharged or howsoever to pass into the sewer systems, storm drains or surface drainage facilities at the demised premises, if any, or elsewhere any noxious, contaminated or poisonous substances…”

Bob – your spokesman misled the reporter – dumping de‑icing fluid into the sewer breaches the Tripartite Agreement. There’s nothing acceptable about that.

When will this – and the other breaches – stop?

Mr. Deluce did not respond.


[i] This draft Plan, prepared in 2012, was released by the Toronto Port Authority only after it was severely criticized by City staff for failing to have one:

While BBTCA is not required to have a master plan legislatively, master plans are a standard operating requirement that provide information to regulators, funding partners and the community on airport growth and business planning.  All other Canadian airports operate in accordance with an airport master plan [

The draft Plan can be accessed at


[ii] From

“[Pearson]’s upgraded Central De‑icing Facility delivers the appropriate concentration of blended glycol during aircraft de‑icing. It also enables comprehensive glycol collection and concentration of spent glycol for resale into secondary automotive and mining markets.

[iii] From an email to Community AIR dated March 10, 2010.

[iv] This 1983 agreement, between the City and the TPA, contains numerous restrictions on the Island Airport’s operations, including this one.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply