Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5884

Title:

AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF COAL TAR SEALANTS ON STATE AND LOCAL HIGHWAYS.

Vote Date:

2/22/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/3/2017

File No.:

22

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Patrick S. Boyd, 50th Dist.

Rep. Joseph P. Gresko, 121st Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

To prohibit the use of coal based road sealant products on any State or local roadway. Studies have shown that coal tar based sealants contain carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are harmful to human and aquatic life. Dusts generated by the wearing down of coal tar sealants are comprised of these hazardous chemicals and could potentially contaminate local ecosystems.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert Klee, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP): Supports the bill. Coal tar contains high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chemicals known to cause health impacts to people, fish, and wildlife. Once applied, coal tar sealants are not stable. These sealants wear down over time, becoming dust which is then transported into surrounding rivers and streams, or storm water management. The chemicals then enter the water and become sediment. Studies indicate that municipalities can expect to incur high costs (potentially upwards of $1 billion) for dredging and disposal of the contaminated waters. Asphalt sealants are far safer than coal based products and have fewer PAHs resulting in fewer levels of chemicals in the environment.

Raul Pino, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health: Supports the bill. Evidence developed by the federal government, specifically the United States Geological Survey, shows that the toxic carcinogen, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is released from coal tar sealed roads as a result of weathering and vehicular damage to the roads. Coal tar contains high levels of PAHs and these chemicals can be of public health concern when they contaminate street dust where children play as well as sediment and streams nearby. Asphalt based products, are low in PAHs, safe, and widely used as alternatives. A ban on coal tar based products would decrease the spread of toxic and carcinogenic PAHs from roadways, and would be a natural step to take following the bans in other jurisdictions.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Robert Andrews, Pomfret Center, CT: The product used in Pomfret contains an extremely high percentage of coal tar, more than 65% as compared to the almost 20% used on traditional driveway sealers. With safer alternatives available in the market, Connecticut should consider banning coal based products from being sold.

Craig Baldwin, First Selectman, Town of Pomfret: Small towns such as Pomfret do not have the resources or expertise to make determinations on specific road products, they look to the State of Connecticut to help set precedents.

John Bergendahl, Ph.D., PE, Director of Environmental Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute: There is simply no reason to use coal based products when alternatives exist. The chemical base of coal tar products has been found to be both, carcinogenic and mutagenic. Evidence showing significant mobilization of these deleterious chemicals from coal tar products is strong and convincing. Passage this bill would eliminate the responsibility by state and local municipalities for costly remediation.

Dr. Kimberly R. Bergendahl, Pomfret CT: Shared testimony refuting statistics that were spoken by Patrick Brownell, a distributor of Pavement Dressing Conditioner (PDC) who claimed that the PDC product is the safest product available. Bergendahl also submitted an attachment from the AdHoc Longmeadow Road Committee who hired an engineering firm to study the Pomfret application of coal tar based product. Committee members should take the important first step of banning further use and application of coal tar based products.

Patrick Boyd, State Representative 50th Dist.: The town of Pomfret made the decision to use coal tar based sealants (rather that asphalt) on the largest subdivision in town. The board of Selectmen did not question this decision because the product is currently legal in the state. However, debate and research on coal tar sealants arose after a messy application process of the product. Coal tar based sealants are considered hazardous material and have a negative impact on people the environment and wildlife. The town of Pomfret is currently creating an ordinance to ban the future use of coal tar sealants. Included with testimony is supporting documentation from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Geological Survey expressing concerns for human health and aquatic life in areas where coal based sealants were used.

Chris Cryder, Special Project Cordinator, Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound: Research shows that coal tar products pose serious threats to waterways, wildlife, and human health (DPH Environmental Health Technical Brief Sept. 2014). Additionally, alternatives to coal tar sealants exist of equal cost.

Thomas E. Ennis, Coal Tar Free America: Shared personal testimony in regards to work history with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons studies. National retail chains, such as Lowes and Home Depot, have pulled coal tar based sealers from their shelves in light of research indicating the dangers of these products to public health.

Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons used in coal tar sealants are especially toxic and lethal to aquatic life.

Maureen Nicholson, former Selectman, Town of Pomfret: Coal tar sealants contain well known carcinogens in very high concentrations that flake off the road surface, contaminating both surface and ground water, and air. These products are known to cause cancer; children are particularly at risk to the negative effects of these products. One ill-informed application of coal tar sealants can have costly and long lasting financial, and emotional complications. There is hope that a state wide ban could raise awareness and hopefully prevent the Pomfret disaster from occurring in other communities.

Lisa Semancik, Pomfret CT: Small towns like Pomfret look to the state for guidance, a State wide initiative to ban coal tar products will help protect both citizens and the environment.

Chris Sullivan, Branford CT: The coal tar industry is pushing a new product that they are calling a rejuvenator for use on roads. There is no scientific study to indicate that this product acts any differently than coal tar products in regards to its release of potentially carcinogenic compounds. The committee should replace the word “sealant” in the current bill language with the word “product” to be clear that a rejuvenator would also be covered by the prohibition.

Sharon Verrilli, Pomfret, CT: Residents in the neighborhood where the coal based sealant was applied experienced headaches and nausea after the application. These neighbors are now dealing with road dust containing dangerous levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contaminating their homes. The Environment committee should look to successful legislation and mimic what is already on the books in Washington, D.C., banning the use of coal based products.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Robert G. Brownell, President, Surtreat Technologies, Inc.: Surtreat Technologies is a distributor of Pavement Dressing Conditioner (PDC), a product which contains coal tar for use on roadways as a rejuvenator. The United States Geological Survey's (USGS) study of Austin, Texas's sediments which found high levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) has been found to be unreliable, incorrect, and unscientific since the USGS has not been able to replicate its findings. The primary source of PAHs is from atmospheric deposition. Additionally, prohibiting the use of PDC's on roadways in the state could cost Connecticut millions of dollars by requiring repaved roads. There are no restrictions for using PDC or coal tar by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Department of Transportation, Military Bases, or Airports. Testimony also included a number of supporting informational materials.

Reported by: Jamie Hobart / Ussawin Bumpen

Date: 3/22/17