Saturday, December 3, 2011

How about some asphalt recycling?

Don’t get me wrong:  I thoroughly believe that recycling is a good thing.  However, I have problems with certain types of recycling being so close to residential neighborhoods.

Earlier in the year, the Village of Cary de-annexed some land on Route 31 to Lake in the Hills.  Now, Bluff City Materials  is petitioning the Village of Lake in the Hills to install an asphalt recycling plant on the property.   Bluff City is petitioning Lake in the Hills for the following:
  • Rezoning of the land from “agricultural” (AI) use to “manufacturing” (M1) use
  • Reduction in the “perimeter landscaping requirements, screening requirements, parking lot landscaping, and tree preservation requirements" 
  • variance to include parking lot and vehicle storage 
  • Variance to hold materials without being covered
The problem with asphalt recycling is the fact that it can have a negative impact on the surrounding environment.  Smell is always an issue with asphalt recycling, that is for sure.  Since asphalt shingles are made from petroleum, the recycling of such materials can also release dangerous substances into the air.  According to the Ohio EPA, the seven most dangerous substances associated with asphalt recycling are hydrogen sulfide, benzene, chromium, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium and arsenic.  These can be released into the air or leached into the groundwater.  The biggest concern is asbestos. Even a study done by the asphalt recycling industry in 2007 acknowledged that that there are
“potential harmful environmental emissions of asbestos minerals that could possibly be contained in the shingles during asphalt shingle processing. Historically, asbestos minerals have been used in a number of roofing products, and thus may be present to some degree in roofing debris. A secondary concern is the release of PAH compounds, a group of organic chemicals that naturally occur in petroleum, many of which are known to have detrimental human health impacts at elevated levels of exposure. (Environmental Issues Associated With Asphalt Shingle Recycling,  Construction Materials Recycling Association, p. 11)
Asbestos is a major potential problem with asphalt recycling.  The problem is that much of the shingles brought in for recycling may have asbestos, especially if they come from older sites.  And there is no way to tell beforehand. 

Bluff City Materials is located in Bartlett and has locations throughout the area.  Their main business is gravel, but they have branched out into other ventures.  Earlier this year they were cited by the Illinois EPA for the illegal storage of salt in one of their facilities that was leaching into local water sources.  Currently, McHenry County is conducting an investigation for illegal construction on the site and for the dumping of materials.  Recently, the owners put up a chain-link fence around the property.

Residents of Fox Trails are already being adversely affected by the Meyer gravel pit.  This could further impact the subdivision.  However, this proposed asphalt recycling plant will also affect other residents of Cary, most notably those closer to the site.  That would include the Cambria and Greenfields subdivisions.  Depending on the wind, even more of Cary can be affected.  Crystal Lake, too.

Particulates and odor are not the only concerns.  In a study done by the Blue RidgeDefense Fund in 2002, it was reported that property values of homes near asphalt plants suffered losses up to 57%.

Why didn’t you hear about this?  Lake in the Hills only requires that residents within 250 feet of the site be notified.  That means no one in the subdivisions of southern western Cary ever received the notice (View it here).

Here is the proposed site:

(More pictures can be viewed here, including the tiny "Public Notice" sign at the site)

What can you do?

On Monday, December 12, Bluff City will make their case to the Zoning Board of Lake in the Hills.  The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the Lake in the Hills Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate, Lake in the Hills.

Although Cary residents are not taxpayers in Lake in the Hills, we do shop there.  And we deserve to be heard.

Please consider attending this important meeting.

You can send your concerns to Tom Stock, the Zoning Commission Chairman via the Lake in the Hills “Speak Out” form:

More to come.

Links cited:
Asphalt Plants Contaminants of Concern.  Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.