KELOWNA – Life stinks sometimes, as one woman and her son found out the hard way during an afternoon drive in Kelowna, B.C.
Susan Allan, 53, said she and her 21-year-old son Travis Sweet had just returned from having lunch with her mother in nearby Peachland when a smelly substance fell through the open sunroof of their car and onto their faces.
No, it wasn’t bird poop, as one may suspect. The stink bomb turned out to be human feces.
The poop appeared to have fallen from a plane that she saw when they were stopped at a red light with another car that was also hit, Allan said, adding she and the other driver went to a carwash and sprayed themselves off before she called the Kelowna airport.
She said an administrator told her Transport Canada would be investigating and the department has confirmed it is looking into the possibility of frozen lavatory waste, called “blue ice”, falling from an aircraft.
“I just want everybody to know that although this seems like a surreal type of story this happened to me and my son,” Allan said in a Facebook message to The Canadian Press. “All we want people to know is that it was quite devastating to be covered in poop and I hope it never happens to anybody else.”
Allan said she has conjunctivitis in both eyes and provided a doctor’s note saying it was due to being “inundated with sewage from an overhead plane while driving her car.” She said she has been prescribed eye drops and her right eye is still sensitive to wind.
Allan described what happened as “disgusting, degrading, demoralizing.”
Transport Canada said aircraft with washroom facilities onboard are equipped with an enclosed sewage holding tank that is designed to be emptied at special facilities at airports.
“It is possible that a valve malfunctions and allows some leakage of the tank’s content,” the department said in an email. “If this happens, the liquid seeping from valves freezes and adheres to the outside of the aircraft when the aircraft is flying at high altitudes.”
It said as a plane starts its decent and the atmosphere gets warmer, ice from the frozen waste starts to melt and pieces detach and either melt or remain solid as they hit the ground.
Transport Canada said air operators must comply with Canadian aviation regulations that state objects must not be dropped from an aircraft in flight, causing a hazard to people or property.
The department said it does not keep statistics of “blue ice” incidents but it is collecting and reviewing information on recent cases reported in Kelowna and Abbotsford before providing any details.
With file from The Canadian Press