One of the hottest issues we are seeing these days is proposals to build asphalt plants. They are popping up everywhere. In Petaluma, CA, Raymond, WI, Bristow, VA, Roseville, MN and Westerville, OH just to name a few.
Perhaps it’s because of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill that targets new construction projects including roads. Or maybe road paving is a priority in your state. There are already more than 5,000 operating asphalt plants in the U.S. In some instances, the companies promoting these new plants are selling new improved methods including one in Bristow, VA that was described as a “green” asphalt process (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Others are being described as a “clean” alternative to the old version of asphalt plants.
Regardless of the sales pitch, all asphalt plants release toxic air emissions and generate sickening odors and heavy dust. Pollution from these plants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHSs), such as benzo(a)pyrene, particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. Breathing these substances can cause liver damage, respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, skin rashes, and affect the central nervous system. Several of the VOCs and PAHs are known to cause cancer and others are suspected carcinogens.
Despite the propaganda describing the proposed plants, most are still nothing more than the traditional “hot batch” asphalt plant, the bread and butter design of the asphalt industry. And, remarkably, many of these plants are being targeted for residential neighborhoods, some as close as 250 feet from private homes. Not surprisingly, people are organizing quickly to oppose these plants arguing primarily that the location of proposed plant is the main problem. How can you build an asphalt plant in the middle of a residential neighborhood where air emissions, noise, and truck traffic impact hundreds if not thousands of people, particularly children, seniors, and those with respiratory problems.
People are finding allies in schools, hospitals, retirement homes, golf courses and many businesses that would be are affected by an operating asphalt plant and all that it entails. People are also finding that they can win if they engage their neighbors and strategically target the decision makers whether it’s the zoning board, their county supervisors, or the city council.
An asphalt plants does not belong in close proximity to residential neighborhoods. To find out more about these proposals and what groups are doing to stop them, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 703-237-2249.
CHEJ is also holding a special training on asphalt plants for members on August 24th . Contact Matthew Smith at msmith(at)chej.org for more information.