Coal Tar Sealant Causes Fish Kill in North Carolina
Andover Townsman, Andover, MA
October 7, 2010
Cleanup ongoing at site of liquid asphalt spill
By Dustin Luca
Work is underway to clean up what the town considers a significant spill after as many as 100 gallons of liquid asphalt leaked into catch basins near a business park.
The incident occurred after parking lot sealer ran off parking lots at 10 New England Business Center Drive shortly after two coats of cold tar-based liquid asphalt were applied, said Joe Ferson, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection. Rain started to fall shortly after workers applied the second coat, Ferson said.
The cold tar-based asphalt used to seal the parking lot is made of refined coal tar, clay and water. The tar itself is not considered to be significantly toxic, but the sheer volume of the spill had officials concerned, according to Ferson.
The town learned of the leaking asphaslt material when Highway Superintendent Christopher Cronin received a call from an unknown person about something awry at the parking lot, according to Bob Douglas, Andover conservation director.
“He had gotten an anonymous tip about what was described as an oily washout from a recently resurfaced parking lot,” Douglas said.
Once he was notified, Douglas arrived at the scene, where he said he was met by work crews. “The first thing out of their mouth was that they had contacted their insurance company,” Douglas said.
The material was running off the lot into a number of places, including storm drains that lead into underground streams connected to the Merrimack River, according to Ferson.
Further complicating the cleanup process was the fact that the incident went unreported to the Department of Environmental Protection, according to Douglas. The DEP should’ve been notified within a few hours, he said.
It is believed that as many as 100 gallons of the liquid asphalt material spilled into contaminated areas before being brought under control, a volume that extends far beyond the acceptably safe amount, Douglas said.
Cleanup of the site is requiring vacuum excavation and hand excavation throughout the affected areas of the property, which includes catch basin outfalls surrounding the parking lot, according to Douglas.
The storm drains are also being cleaned out, Ferson said.
“I’m glad whoever called it in did, since we probably wouldn’t have gotten the cleanup if it wasn’t engaged right away,” Douglas said.
The cause of the problem is under investigation, and the amount of time it will take to fully clean the area is unknown, Ferson said Tuesday.
T&K Asphalt Services Inc., which was contracted to seal the parking lot, could not be reached for comment after business hours on Tuesday evening.