A woman living in West Jordan, Utah, near the Salt Lake City Airport, believes that a commercial aircraft flying into or out of the airport dumped a load of human waste on her car and surrounding property. She would like someone to clean it up and for the incident not to reoccur. The claim presents a challenge, however.

Aircraft are prohibited from dumping waste from lavatories in flight and, in fact, it can’t happen while in flight because the valve is on the outside of the plane. However, from time to time, leaks of what have been called “blue ice,” so called because at a 30,000 feet altitude urine tends to freeze, have been reported to happen.

Uncontrolled ejections of waste from aircraft not only represent a hazard for people and things on the ground, but to the aircraft itself for its potential to strike an important part of the plane, such as an engine.

The first thing that the woman has to do is to prove that what hit her car came from a commercial aircraft. The airport can run radar replays and figure out whether a plane was flying over the exact spot where the waste strike happened at the time the woman said it happened. Then an investigation has to take place whether the plane is leaking human waste.

However, a question has arisen over who is responsible. A spokesperson for the airport suggested that the woman needs to call the city to report a hazardous waste incident and have it send a crew to clean it up.

However, since aircraft leaking human waste accidentally would represent negligence, the woman might have a cause of action against whichever airline the plane belongs to. She claims that the incident is not the first time it has happened and she wants it to stop. Perhaps a threat of litigation will be the only resource to get the attention of the responsible party, according to applicable federal and Utah state law.

On the other hand, since the waste strike did not offer a threat of death or serious damage, a law suit may not be worth it. The city and the airline may have a discussion on who pays for the cleanup. however,