Aviation stakeholders today agreed to deploy all necessary resources and efforts towards ridding the nation’s airports of plastic pollution and all forms of debris responsible for damages to aircraft and usually lead to aviation crashes.

This commitment was in commemoration of the World Environmental Day initiated by the United Nations and slated for every 5th of June each year globally.

At the venue of the event held at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport today, heads of agencies and other stakeholders in the aviation industry expressed their commitment to adopt all possible effective measures in keeping the airports and aircraft free from pollution.

Speaking on the theme of the event, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engr. Akin Olateru, said that plastic pollution remained risky to air operations as it constitutes Foreign Object Debris (FOD) that is highly toxic.

He said: “Some effects of plastic pollution include foreign object debris (FODs). FOD is any article or substance alien to an aircraft or system which could potentially cause damage. At an airport, FOD includes those objects found in an inappropriate location that as a result of being at that location can damage equipment.”

According to him, most common FOD items were aircraft parts, tyre fragment, mechanics tools, nails, luggage parts, broken pavement and stones, including plastic waste which is common at the nation’s airports due to the volume of traffic and poor sanitation culture.

He said: “FOD poses a safety hazard. It can be ingested in an aircraft engine which can result in damage to the aircraft or cause an accident.

“On July 25, 2000 an AF 4590 departing CDG ran over a piece of titanium debris from a continental DC 10 shredding a tyre and slamming rubber debris into the plane’s fuel tank. The subsequent leak and fire caused the Concorde crash killing 100 passengers, 9 crew members and 4 people on the ground.”

To address this problem, according to Olateru, individuals and companies using the airports around the world must imbibe safety precautions and deliberate waste management practices aimed at tackling the menace.

“Airport should develop a mechanism to check and remove FOD and the likes from runway, taxiway, apron, aircraft parking areas and loading ramps. A daily self-inspection should be conducted.

“A debris management program should be developed to include awareness and training, detection through manual inspections and equipment; removal using equipment and evaluation of the program through data collection to identify ways to make improvement,” Olateru said.

In his welcome address, the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma, said Nigeria is one of the top 20 countries in the world with worst cases of plastic pollution.

According to him, the airports were common grounds where large amount of plastic waste is gathered, with its insidious effects on the environment.

He called on the airline operators to adopt effective measures in ensuring that passengers are properly cautioned on the dangers of plastic pollution and other dangerous waste.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Nigerian Environmental Society, Eugene Itua, called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to live up to its regulatory onus by making sure that all airport users imbibe the culture of sanitation in line with global best practices recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Among other recommendations, the stakeholders charged FAAN and NCAA to ensure that concessionaires at the airports adopt current techniques be used in other climes for packaging, storing, recycling and bagging items with non-plastic materials such as bamboo utensils, paper plates and wrappers, among other things.

Also at the event, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was represented by Ronald Kayanja, Director of UNIC, Lagos, presented his goodwill message; while Prof. Babajide Alo of the University of Lagos presented a lecture on the theme of the event.