Grand Rapids' Gerald R. Ford airport confirmed Friday that among other options, they are exploring the possibility of building a $15 million pipeline to carry de-icing chemicals to a nearby river.

The chemicals, used to melt snow off of runways and airplanes, would be routed to the Thornapple River. Airport officials would not say what quantity of the chemical would be pushed through the pipeline. Officials also stressed that the pipeline is just one option being explored at this point, and would have to be approved by the Department of Environmental Quality before construction could begin.

Previously, the airport had considered installing a wastewater treatment plant onsite at the airport, but found it too expensive. Another option considered was a centralized de-icing pad for aircraft, but it too was more costly and airport officials feared it would slow air traffic.

In the 1990's the DEQ had ordered the airport to stop the runoff of de-icing chemicals into a creek in Cascade Township after a slimy film had started to appear in the water. Some residents fear the same will happen to the Thornapple River if the proposal goes through, though officials say the river is fast-moving enough to dillute the chemicals. They do acknowledge, however, that the chemicals could create a film on the water, though officials say the film is harmless.

The pipeline proposal was submitted September 1 to the Department of Environmental Equality.