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State issues permit for Ford Airport’s proposed treatment system to prevent bioslime

Ryan Grant
Bioslime that forms in the winter months in a creek near the Ford Airport.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids will build a new treatment system to prevent a film of smelly, nuisance bioslime from building up on a nearby river. That’s after the state issued the airport a discharge permit on Friday.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says the smelly bioslime is not a human health hazard. It’s formed by bacteria that eat the deicing fluids used on airplanes in the winter months. The state says the airport has until 2015 to stop the bioslimes.

The airport is proposing a system that will treat the deicing fluid, one that’s unlike deicing systems used by any other airport in Michigan. Airport officials say the traditional method alone won’t stop the bioslime build up.

People who live near the airport have been skeptical of the plan.

The DEQ issued the permit today:

Area residents and local officials shared their concerns about the issue during public meetings this year and through an extended public comment period. A permit condition was developed in response that requires the airport to report on the effectiveness of the new treatment system. The permit further requires additional pollutant sampling for two discharge events after the treatment system is operational. A DEQ Web page will soon be available with regularly updated information for concerned residents and interested groups.

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