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Permit approved for East State asphalt plant in 5-1 vote
Posted By Brandon Reid On September 15, 2011 @ 10:01 am In Happening Now, Local News | 1 Comment
By Brandon Reid
In a 5-1 vote, Winnebago County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a special-use permit that will allow William Charles Construction to operate an asphalt plant at the bottom of its East State Street quarry.
The vote came in the early-morning hours of Sept. 15 after a hearing that began Sept. 14 and spanned nearly six hours.
The Sept. 14 hearing was the continuation of a meeting that began Aug. 18. That meeting lasted more than six hours and led to allegations that the ZBA violated the Open Meetings Act. Click here  to read a guest column from one protester following that meeting. The same protester also wrote a guest column titled “We reject the asphalt plant,” which can be viewed by clicking here .
Many neighbors of the proposed asphalt plant have expressed their concerns that the plant would lower their property values, bring air and noise pollution to the neighborhood, and create an increase in traffic. About people 50 attended the Sept. 14 hearing.
William Charles Construction originally planned to use its Mulford Road quarry to build the asphalt plant. The Mulford project was approved by Rockford City Council in 2008 following a tie-breaking vote by Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I). However, that plan drew controversy and a lawsuit, which is still pending.
July 19, William Charles Construction announced its plan to site the plant at its East State Street quarry, which it purchased last year.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, William Charles has donated more than $140,000 to 151 political campaigns since 2000.
Following is information from the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Fact Sheet on asphalt plants, viewable by clicking here .
Asphalt is used for paving roads and parking lots and for roofing. It consists of gravel, sand or stone that is bound together by cement made from crude oil. Petroleum hydrocarbons in the crude oil form a gas, which condenses into fine particles upon cooling, creating a particulate vapor. This fact sheet will answer some general questions about asphalt fumes.
What chemicals are in asphalt fumes?
Asphalt is a mixture containing thousands of different chemicals. The chemicals in asphalt vary depending on the source of the crude oil, the type of asphalt being made, and the process used. In general, the fumes are a mixture of several different types of chemicals including:
• volatile organic compounds,
• carbon monoxide,
• nitrogen oxides, and
• polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Many of these chemicals also are emitted by other combustion sources such as cars and trucks, fireplaces and wood stoves, wildfires, and industries. All of these chemicals are often found in outdoor air at low levels; however, elevated levels of these chemicals may be found near an operating asphalt plant.
How are people exposed to asphalt fumes?
Fumes created from heating asphalt can be inhaled into the lungs or can condense onto exposed areas of the skin.
What are the health effects of asphalt fume exposure?
The health effects that can be caused by exposure to asphalt fumes depend on:
• how much has entered the body,
• how long you are exposed to asphalt fumes, and
• how the body responds to asphalt fumes.
People who work in asphalt plants would have the greatest exposure to asphalt fumes. Some of the symptoms reported by workers include irritation of the upper respiratory tract, headache, fatigue, wheezing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea.
These symptoms are from short-term exposure to high levels of asphalt fumes. They are typically mild and rapidly reversible once exposure ends. Asphalt fumes contain several chemicals that may cause cancer; however, studies of cancer in asphalt workers are not conclusive.
Residents living near an asphalt plant also would be more likely to breathe low levels of asphalt fumes for a long period of time. In this setting, exposure to asphalt fumes would depend on the plant emissions and the prevailing winds. Based on sampling conducted near asphalt plants in several states, residents could experience irritation from the odors from asphalt production, but the potential for adverse health effects is expected to be very low. Children may be more sensitive than adults to certain chemicals. No studies have linked residential exposure to asphalt fumes with the development of cancer.
Can odors from the plant cause adverse health effects?
If you smell odors from an asphalt plant, they are not necessarily at levels that would cause adverse health effects. Many of the highly odorous chemicals in asphalt fumes can be smelled at levels below those expected to cause adverse health effects; however, persistent odors may cause symptoms in some people.
Does living near an asphalt plant pose an increased health hazard?
An asphalt plant must meet emission criteria to receive an operating permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. If the permit criteria are met, emissions would not be expected to pose a public health hazard. Asphalt plant emissions may lead to odors in the community, but the potential for adverse health effects is expected to be low.
Where can I get more information?
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Environmental Health
525 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761
TYY (hearing impaired use only) 800-547-0466
This fact sheet was supported in part by funds from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act trust fund through a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Updated February 2009
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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 here: http://rockrivertimes.com/2011/08/17/guest-column-we-reject-the-asphalt-plant/
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