May 30, 2015

Coal tar Polluters Get Reprieve from Maine legislators

 Bringing coal to Maine is bad enough, but bringing its goopy extract called coal tar into Maine, and spraying it atop existing driveways and parking lots to give them that "fresh asphalt look" is equally dumb. So an enlightened legislator decided to try to do something about it by introducing LD 1212 An Act To Prohibit Coal Tar Pavement Products.

Unfortunately, despite powerful testimony from concerned citizens, and and credible information from the US Geologic survey and other sources including the Maine DEP, and support from progressive legislators like Ben Chipman, the Maine Legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee balked at the idea that some coal tar sprayers applicants in Maine might be discomfited by having to switch to safer materials, and voted Ought Not to Pass, effectively killing the bill.

This despite the fact that big box retailers like Lowes and Walmart have stopped selling sealcoat, citing its toxicity! Not to mention that in other states where the toxic spray is banned, driveway and parking lot pavers hav had no difficulty switching to a less deadly brew.

A potent carcinogen, Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) dissolves from Sealcoat at levels and enters gutters, brooks, streams, rivers, bays affecting plankton, fish, people.

USGS wrote this year "Coal-tar-based sealcoat typically is 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch and contains from 50,000 to 100,000 milligrams per kilogram (or parts per million) PAHs, about 1,000 times higher than PAH concentrations in asphalt-based sealcoat products, and hundreds of times higher than PAH concentrations in tire particles, used motor oil, or other urban sources. At least seven PAHs, including benzo[a]pyrene, are probable human carcinogens."

Seemingly feeling a twinge of guilt at okaying continued water pollution of such magnitude, proposals were made to so soften the blow. They first sought to substitute a letter directing Maine DEP to study and report back on Sealcoat, then when DEP said it had no money for such a study. asked DEP to write them a letter about ..... something.

DEP's official at the worksession asked: a letter saying...what? This was never made clear. DEP had already issued a report blasting the substance... Poor legislators! They just wanted to say no to the bill and blow it off to 2015 but the agency wouldn't help them.

But Ought Not To Pass it was. The toxic sludge will continue to be sprayed onto parking lots and driveways sending its deadly chemicals into the waters of Penobscot Bay, the Saint George River, the Bagaduce River and all up and down the Maine coast and inland.

Sealcoat is one of those "worst o fthe worst" pollution sources. If the state won't ban it, can our towns? The material is really just a vanity application that may look prettier - if asphalt can ever be called pretty- but delivers a deadly punch to the waterbodies it washes into

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