“Stink From The Sky:” Frozen Aircraft Waste Crashes Down In India

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

The 10-12kg chunk of frozen yuck.

Canadians are well aware of the practical maxim: “Don’t eat yellow snow.” India is learning that ‘blue ice’ makes a lousy souvenir.

Indian officials suspect an icy ball which fell on a village in the northern state of Haryana was frozen human waste leaked from an aircraft overhead.

The 10-12kg chunk of ice fell on Fazilpur Badli village with a "big thud" last weekend, startling residents. Local official Vivek Kalia told the BBC some villagers thought it was an "extra-terrestrial" object.

Plane toilets store human waste in special tanks. These are normally disposed of once the plane has landed. But international aviation authorities acknowledge that lavatory leaks can occur in the air.

Kalia told the BBC that a sample of the projectile had been sent for chemical analysis, but said "we suspect strongly" that it is frozen airline excrement. Hmmm, wonder what gave it away?

"It was a very heavy icy ball of ice which dropped from the skies early on Saturday morning. There was big thud and people of the village came running out of their homes to find out what had happened," he said.

"Some villagers thought it was an extra-terrestrial object. Others thought it was some celestial rock and I've heard that they took samples home," he said. In a story titled ‘Poop-li Live: When Stink Fell From The Sky,’ The Times of India also reported that people "sneaked a few pieces into their clothes” and took them home. 

A senior official of the Indian Meteorological Department, who examined a small sample, said the projectile was "definitely not a meteorological phenomenon."

In January 2016, a woman in central Madhya Pradesh state suffered a severe shoulder injury when she was hit by a football-sized chunk of icewhich fell from the air and crashed into the roof of her house. In December of that year, an Indian court ruled that airlines would be fined if their planes released human waste from toilets in the air.

Frozen human waste very occasionally forms around the overflow outlets for aircraft toilets, and then falls to earth. Modern commercial aircraft cruise at high altitudes, and the sub-zero temperatures outside cause any liquid to freeze immediately. The resulting ice then breaks off the plane, gaining speed as it falls to the ground far below.

The unwanted droppings (in more than one sense) are often referred to as "blue ice," because of the chemicals added to the toilets in planes to reduce odour and break down the waste. 

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, for example, has said that around 25 falls of "blue ice" are reported every year from the 2.5 million flights a year over UK airspace.




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