Airliner at gate

American Airlines (LAX)


LAX Terminal 4
American Airlines Terminal 4 at LAX

Los Angeles International Airport is the second busiest airport in the USA, and Terminal 4 is one of the busiest (and oldest) terminals at the airport. Much of the original underground infrastructure which dates back to World War II, is still in use.

And while handling nearly a hundred million passengers and almost 600,000 flights every year makes the airport a huge part of California’s economy, it has also had a huge impact on the environment.

One of the biggest environmental challenges faced by the Airline tenants and the Airport Authority is the management of stormwater runoff, which can carry harmful pollutants such as fuel, oils, grease, and heavy metals into the Pacific Ocean, which is only a few hundred feet from the end of the main runways. In an airport environment, the risk of stormwater pollution is especially high due to the presence of fueling activities, cargo handling, and large impervious surfaces.

American Airlines recognized the need to address this issue and implemented a comprehensive stormwater management program, which centrally included the use of Safe Drain stormwater pollution prevention products.

Storm Drain Pollution Challenge

Spill containment for aviation
Safe Drain captures an estimated 2000 pounds of F.O.D., sand, and sediment each year at LAX.

Before American had installed Safe Drains, any risk could have easily turned into a crisis. Accidental fluid spills, rain sediment and sand collection, and even general airline vehicle maintenance were all costly challenges that had the potential to become disasters. However, with the implementation of Safe Drains, American now has peace of mind knowing that their facilities are protected 24/7 with the industry’s best storm drain protection system. With Safe Drain, sediment buildup is captured and can be cleaned out easily without chasing the sediment down the drain where it can accumulate and cause flooding. And if a spill occurs, Safe Drain will capture the hazardous material to be easily removed without requiring drastic and costly response efforts.

Spills can happen at any time, leading to steep fines, bad press, and hazardous material entering our waterways. With Safe Drain, a spill that could cost over $500,000 in fines would instead only require a simple cleanup by staff. Don’t take the chance; while a spill is never planned, planning for a spill can make all the difference.


After multiple hazardous spill events (and even more “almost” events), American Airlines at LAX implemented the use of Safe Drain products. Safe Drain is a patented, stainless steel storm drain inlet insert with a shutoff valve and filter. The system captures pollutants such as oil, grease, sediment, debris, and all types of F.O.D. from stormwater runoff. The product is designed to fit into any inlet and is easily installed and maintained.

Thanks to SafeDrain, our LAX facility is now consistently meeting our testing goals.
Terry Strait,
EHS Manager, American Airlines at LAX

The Benefits

Storm Drain Pollution Prevention
Glycol spill contained 100% by SafeDrain!

The use of Safe Drain products has provided several benefits to the airline, including:

  1. Improved water quality: By capturing pollutants from stormwater runoff, the Safe Drain system has helped to improve the water quality in the ocean and surrounding waterways.
  2. Compliance with regulations: The Airport (and its tenants) is required to comply with stormwater regulations set by the State of California, and the use of Safe Drain products has helped to meet these regulations.
  3. Cost saving: The Safe Drain system is cost-effective compared to other stormwater treatment options and will eliminate the potential for fines and cleanup costs.
  4. Sustainability: The Safe Drain system is made from durable materials with a lifespan of over 30 years, and the captured pollutants can be recycled or disposed of properly.
  5. Peace of mind: After a quick, construction-free installation, you will have full control over what enters your storm drains with either a manual or automatic control system, giving you total confidence that a spill won’t spell disaster.


For American Airlines at LAX, Safe Drain proved to be an effective solution for stormwater pollution prevention. Its continued use has enabled the airline to manage stormwater runoff and reduce the amount of pollutants entering the nearby waterways and the Pacific Ocean. Safe Drain is cost-effective, sustainable, and can be easily installed in inlets of any size or shape, making it a viable option for other airports and aviation facilities facing similar environmental challenges. By implementing this innovative solution, American Airlines has demonstrated its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.