Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, February 27, 2017

Lavatory Waste: Adding Insult to Injury

"It was like an explosion. It sounded like all the dishes, pots and pans had come crashing out of the cupboard, but it was ice."
"We wouldn't be here today if that ever hit us [the grapefruit-sized chunks of ice that crashed through her house roof]."
"I usually have a bath every night, but last night I didn't -- I didn't want to be the woman found dead in her bathtub."
"It's probably the same as getting struck by lightning. We're leery now, but we're alive and that's the main thing. It's very dangerous those planes going over, but there's not much we can do."
Therese Couch, Calgary resident

"We are in the process of inspecting the aircraft to determine the cause of this incident."
"This is a most unfortunate incident for the family whose home was damaged, and we will be reaching out to pay for all necessary repairs to their home."
Lauren Stewart, spokeswoman, WestJet
Daylight is visible through a hole in the roof of the Ottawa home of Stephanie Moore's mother.
Daylight is visible through a hole in the roof of an Ottawa home penetrated by a 'bomb' of "blue ice" (Supplied) CBC

Theresa and Richard Couch of Calgary have the misfortune to own a home in the southwest neighbourhood of the city where they have lived for 42 years. In all those years they have lived with the annoying sound of aircraft passing over their homes, a constant background sound. Because their home sits directly beneath the flight path where planes landing or taking off at the Calgary International Airport fly.

A peculiar phenomenon is known to take place randomly and infrequently, when 'blue ice' falls from a passing plane to the ground below. And sometimes that ice falls through a roof before it has the chance to hit the ground. It's a rude intrusion to say the least, and a potentially dangerous one. Falling from such a height should such a very solid, robust piece of frozen matter hit a soft, yielding object, it is not the ice that would shatter and be destroyed.

In the experience of the Couches, one they would prefer not be repeated, the startling sound and the realization of what had occurred was nothing if not sobering. WestJet confirmed that the ice had fallen from a WestJet Encore Bombardier Q400 arriving in Calgary from Regina this past Friday. What is being politely spoken of as "ice" has been known to fall at times elsewhere, hitting the roofs of unsuspecting homeowners, and penetrating their fastness.

The ice often has a faint blue colouration, and this is because it is permeated with a disinfectant used in plane lavatories. No one actually activates the release of this waste; it is meant to be discharged after the plane lands in a safe manner threatening to no one, disposed of routinely. On occasion things go awry and without anyone actively switching a trigger to release the waste, it breaks away while in flight.

Where it becomes a frozen bomb of human waste.

A very similar incident occurred to a woman living in Ottawa, exactly a year ago, when the roof of her mother's home was penetrated by a piece of "blue ice". "My head was only about 12 or 15 feet away", she stated, disbelievingly. "At first I thought it was just damage to the ceiling. I couldn't tell it went right through the roof when I first saw it", she elaborated. And then she said: "I teach kids Grades 2 and 3 and I told them the story today and they were completely enthralled by it. They said, 'It's aliens!'"

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