Texas-sized Aquifer District Hears All Hat and No Cattle Presentation from Industry

Earlier today the Pavement Coating Technology Council (PCTC) presented their version of coal tar sealant reality to the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA).  The EAA, with a potential effected jurisdiction over 1 million, is considering a ban of coal tar pavement sealants in an area that covers portions of several counties in sensitive groundwater recharge areas.  They expect to rule on it by the end of the year.

The Industry’s version of reality is that they are the victims of a conspiracy against them.  Also, they spent a good bit of time telling the EAA Research and Technology Subcommittee that, while the title of the ban is “Coal Tar Pavement Products Ban,” they were somehow concerned that this might apply to pipe coatings etc.  In classic form they successfully dodged answering any questions about any research the PCTC has about their product itself.    Instead the speaker, Anne LeHuray, chose to pursue the red herring of coal tar sealants being the dominant source of PAHs to receiving waters.  Has she forgotten that many cities have passed bans on the basis of the product effects, not on a global watershed basis?  This is attacking a peripheral issue to avoid the painful truth that the product is a potent source of available, controllable carcinogenic chemicals.  The painful truth is that individual coal tar sealed parking lots are a problem to public health as shown by Baylor’s Dr. Spencer Williams.

Some more doozies from industry were:

  • The USGS research has been disproven by peer-reviewed science.” Far from it, see Busting Sealant Myths.
  • Asphalt-based sealers wear off so fast that they would provide more contamination than longer lasting coal tar sealants.”  Let’s see if coal tar sealants are 1,000 times more potent than asphalt sealants in PAHs and coal tar sealants last 3 years, then to be equivalent an asphalt sealer would only last less than a day, which is absurd (3 years x 365 days per year which is about 1000 days /1000 times more potent).
  • The FAA testified in the Maryland ban proceedings that they were not supportive of a ban of coal tar sealants.”  I listened to that and unless the FAA also works for the sealant industry, it didn’t happen.  A summary of that interchange is here.
  • The NY Academy of Sciences showed that refined tar sealers contribute less than 1% of the PAH load to NY Harbor.”  This is a misleading statement.  It is an attempt to hide behind the fact that many PAHs have very short time in the environment before breaking down.  The heavier molecules, like the ones with exceptional concentrations in coal tar sealants, were estimated by the Academy.  As a result, coal tar sealants were a significant contributor (more than 30%) to the Harbor load.
  • The Edwards Aquifer filters the coal tar sealants so it won’t be a problem in the water supply.”  That myth was quickly shot down by one of the board members.
  • There is no standard for asphalt sealants.”  Actually the Asphalt Sealant Manufacturer’s Association has developed one.  Here’s the link: http://www.sealcoatmfg.org/asma-spec.pdf
  • There are no alternatives to coal tar sealants, only poor substitutes.”  There are asphalt based sealants that meet all the performance standards of coal tar sealants, including fuel resistance.  Here’s a video on youtube about one that I have seen work very well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW17JTKXnI0
  • The USGS was thrown out of hearings in California because of the poor science.”  Check out my previous post on this topic.  This isn’t even close.  Huffman Says Uncertainty Clouds Demise of California Coal Tar Sealant Ban.
  • Asphalt sealants cost more per gallon than refined tar sealants.”  Yes I agree, 20% more, but if the true cost of environmental cleanup was included, the cost of asphalt based sealants is actually 4,000% less or more than $130 per gallon.
  • Coal tar sealants are not bioavailable.”  Take a look at the studies for benthic organisms, frogs and salamanders to see that this isn’t true.  Here is one study on salamanders: http://wildlife.siu.edu/d_sparling/bommarito.html
  • Enforcement of coal tar sealant bans is very difficult.”  It does take planning and thinking, but it is not that hard.  I actually covered this before in an article entitled, A Worry-Free Guide to Implementing a Coal Tar Sealant Ban.
Representatives of the USGS were on-hand to defend their reputation and to let the EAA know that their mission is unbiased science and that they do not advocate for legislative actions, but merely do research and publish their findings.  This has been their mission for over 140 years.  Research papers undergo rigorous internal review prior to being published.

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