So-called "blue ice" gets its name and its color from the characteristic hue of plane lavatory deodorizing fluid.
Credit: Image via Shutterstock
Two Long Island families with mysterious holes in their roofs think plummeting frozen waste from overhead airplanes might be the cause of their troubles.
Lois Farella awoke to a thunderous crash at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning (Sept. 9) and found that her roof had a hole the size of a basketball leading straight through the shingles, plywood and insulation, according to CBS New York. At the same time, the roof of Farella's next-door neighbor's house got a similar makeover. And when her roofer, Bryan Lanzello, investigated the damage, he reportedly found a brown, wet stain in the attic where the offending object would have landed.
“That’s a lot of blunt force that did that [and it] was coming from a distance. It blew through an inch and a half of shingles and those shingles are tough,” Lanzello said.
Convinced that the holes could only have been caused by something falling from an airplane, the two households called the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate whether they'd been the victims of a shower of "blue ice."
Blue ice is a euphemism for the industrial-deodorizer-hued chunks of frozen human waste that can occasionally fall from airplanes with faulty waste tanks.
Though waste should never be released from an airplane during flight, and in fact can't be released intentionally since the valve to open the tank is on the exterior of the plane, sometimes a leak will allow some waste to freeze to the outside of an airplane at high altitude.
As the plane makes its descent, the frozen mass will begin to warm and can decouple from the craft.
According to a fact sheet on the FAA’s website, any such blue ice “would melt long before it hit the ground, dissipating into miniscule droplets that are nearly invisible."
But Arlene Salac, a spokesperson for the FAA's eastern region office, told Life's Little Mysteries, "If it's a large enough chunk of it, it falls off down to the ground. It does definitely occur." She added that in the past, people have frozen specimens of blue ice that landed in their yards or homes to be back-matched to the namesake lavatory chemical and hopefully linked to the airline responsible.
Salac said blue ice did not cause the mysterious Long Island roof holes, however.
"Inspectors went out there today and it doesn't appear from the information we have at this point to be a case of blue ice," she said. "Whenever we have these cases we pull the radar tracks over the residents and there weren't any aircraft going over that house at that time. The closest one was 3 miles away, so it's not a case of blue ice, but we don't know what happened to the house."
Asked whether frozen waste might drift 3 miles on a collision course with a Long Island rooftop, Salac said no.