09/25/2012

Kerosene stains on Brussels

We sometimes smell kerosene near Geneva airport, but in Brussels they are having to clean the Atomium of kerosene deposits.


The report originally came from the TV station telebruxelles.com, and has been uploaded to YouTube. According to the report it is not the first time and it is an expensive process because the kerosene deposits are particularly hard to eliminate. This well-known structure is about five miles (8 km) from Brussels airport, not far off the axis of one of the runways. Apparently the deposits are worse than usual so far this year, and resist normal cleaning methods.

Could this pollution be harmful to people. The answer of the Brussels environmental office appears to be that they do no air analysis of this, and so can neither confirm nor deny that there is any health hazard.

In Geneva a year ago, when I went to Nernier I was shown apples which appeared to have pollution deposits on the skin. Although I am not aware of whether any test had been done, I would not have eaten them in a month of Sundays.

I also recently saw a complaint of a person living in Pougny, in the pays de Gex. It is, like Nernier but on the other side of the airport, under the flight path of aircraft landing in Geneva. The complaint was that of smelling kerosene and seeing what looked like deposits on the surface of a swimming pool. The photographs taken showed something, but were not too clear.

Having complained to various bodies, the reply came back from the airport that no aircraft had jettisoned any fuel that day, and that any which might do so (on the very rare occasions that it happens) would do so at a high altitude. It was suggested that in case of any similar incident, a good idea would be to take some samples for analysis.

I did actually suggest this at the time, and I repeat that advice just in case anyone else suspects a similar problem.

What I wonder is whether aircraft, like some cars, pollute more when the engines are idling. Maybe some part of the kerosene remains unburnt as an aircraft comes in to land.

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