A Houston, Texas airport was transformed into what looked like a winter wonderland Thursday morning — thanks to the accidental release of fire suppression foam.
The messy mishap took place in a United Airlines hangar at George Bush Intercontinental Airport around 5:30 a.m., blanketing the building and surrounding parking lot in foam 30 feet deep, officials said.
The foam looked nearly indistinguishable from real snow — if it wasn’t for the surrounding bare ground — in aerial footage of the hangar Thursday morning.
Older versions of the firefighting foam are known to be toxic, with prolonged exposure linked to cancers.
But the foam sprayed from the United Airlines hangar is the newer, PFAS-free kind and nontoxic, according to the airport and officials.
“The good news is this is the newer foam that is PFAS-free, so it’s safer for the environment, and it should not be cancer-causing,” Michael Mire, the chief of operations for the Houston Fire Department, told Fox26 Houston.
But the accidental spraying still created a huge mess. An environmental team with United Airlines led the clean-up of the site with the support of the Houston Fire Department, Houston Airports and Houston Public Works.
The clean-up took multiple hours as workers in Hazmat suits sprayed a special solution to dissolve the foam.
“Because of its high expansion properties, it was high as 30 feet. So this stop sign behind us was covered with the foam, all of the vehicles were covered as well,” Mire told the local station while pointing to a stop sign on camera.
The clean-up luckily did not have any impact on travelers flying in and out of Bush Airport.
It’s unclear how the foam was “inadvertently released,” but no person or aircraft was inside the hangar at the time, Houston Airports said.
The Houston Fire Department said it will continue to track the environmental impact of the accidental spill.
“This is a new product to the industry so we’ll see what the results are in 20 years,” Mire said.
Hazmat officials are working with the Coast Guard and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to monitor nearby waterways, Fox26 reported.