“PLANES DUMP TOILET WASTE IN FLIGHT”
Visiting an aircraft toilet is generally an unpleasant affair. It’s difficult enough to squeeze into the cramped room and navigate onto the seat, without the additional concern of what may be about to be unceremoniously dumped into the sea. There have always been rumours concerning the fate of waste at altitude – that it is to be jettisoned from the aircraft, but it turns out that this is actually impossible to do.
This is because airline toilets use either closed waste systems (which operate in a similar way to a house toilet) or a more modern vacuum waste system. Both store the sewage in holding tanks and require access to a valve on the outside of the plane to be emptied.
However, there are cases where waste has seeped out of an aircraft accidentally because of a leak in the tank. The waste becomes immediately frozen, along with the blue waste treatment liquid. This grisly frozen mixture is known as blue ice. Though generally blue ice will collect on the outside of the aircraft and remain there until the plane has landed, there are occasions where it can come loose.
Thankfully, most will melt and evaporate before hitting the ground, or an unlucky passerby, but occasionally the pungent snowball will remain intact. There have been verified reports of people and property being hit with blue ice, but it has never been intentional.