The dangers of living near an asphalt plant
Byproducts from the manufacturing of asphalt could contaminate land, air and water.
Fulton Hogan has been fined for pollution and has been repeatedly fined for failing to ensure the safety of their workers. Holcim has a long history of non-compliance.
On 12 June this year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Holcim $15,000 for polluting at Lidcombe in Sydney. In 2016 the Department of Planning and Environment fined Holcim $15,000 for over extracting at the Teven Quarry. They issued an official caution to Holcim for failing to notify the Department of this incident, saying “The community is also encouraged to contact the Department with any concerns.”
Building an asphalt plant in Teven is in complete contradiction of Ballina Council’s Healthy Waterways Program.
Holcim also has a history of non-compliance in the US (https://corpwatch.org/article/usa-holcim-global-greenwasher):
- In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined the Holnam Holly Hill Plant in South Carolina $838,850 for failing to comply with air emission standards. (Holcim's U.S. operation formerly was called Holnam, for Holderbank North America.)
- Also in 1993, the Texas Air Control Board fined the Midlothian plant $135,000 after discovering emissions were about 50% higher than allowable.
- In 1994 the company's Clarksville Missouri plant, which began burning hazardous waste in 1986, paid a $100,874 fine for violations ranging from failing to analyse waste to keeping waste in open containers.
- In 1999 Iowa state officials found that the company failed to report excess emissions.
- Also in 1999 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality fined the Holnam plant in Dundee $576,500 for emissions 7.5 times the allowable limits.
- In 2000 the company was fined because a coal mill and dryer stack at its La Porte Colorado plant was releasing twice as much pollution as permitted. Its Florence plant had failed air-pollution tests three times since 1996.
- Bitumen (used to make asphalt) is listed as a Group 2B carcinogen: “Possibly carcinogenic to humans” according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (as referenced by Fulton Hogan in their document LQ0L2 28/12/2016).
- Studies [Mommsen et al. 1983; Risch et al. 1988; Bonassi et al. 1989; Jensen et al. 1988] have reported an association between bladder and renal cancers and occupations having exposure to asphalt.
- One study (Cancer Risk from Incidental Ingestion Exposures to PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) associated with Coal-Tar-Sealed Pavement E. Spencer Williams, et al.) found that the presence of coal-tar-based pavement sealants is associated with significant increases in estimated excess lifetime cancer risk for nearby residents. Much of this calculated excess risk arises from exposures in early childhood (0−6 years).
- A peer-reviewed study (Knox EG, Gilman EA, 1997) showed that children have an increased danger of getting cancer if they live within three to five kilometres of certain kinds of industrial facilities. Factories making bitumen were included in the study.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found: "There is sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of extracts of steam-refined bitumens, air-refined bitumens and pooled mixtures of steam-and air-refined bitumens in experimental animals."
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer "has determined long-term exposure to ethylbenzene (a constituent of asphalt) may cause cancer in humans."
- According to an Environmental Impact Report by the Republic of Maritius Government, “The impact of NOx, CO and particulate emissions (from asphalt production) on human health have been correlated with nausea, localised pains, weakness in extensor muscles, tremors, palpitations, indigestion, dizziness, irritation of the eyes, nervousness and anxiety.”
- The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states “Asphalt processing and asphalt roofing manufacturing facilities are major sources of hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, hexane, phenol, polycyclic organic matter and toluene.”
- According to a 2000 report by US federal agency NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) “a number of non-carcinogenic health effects continued to be reported among workers exposed to asphalt fumes. These include eye, nose, throat, skin and respiratory tissue irritation, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach discomfort and insomnia.”
- Two studies (Hansen  and Maizlish et al. ) indicated that non-malignant lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma were among the toxic effects of exposure to asphalt fumes.
- Many studies (Norseth et al. 1991; Chase et al. 1994; Tavris et al. 1984; Schaffer et al. 1985; Waage and Nielson 1986; Exxon 1997) found symptoms of nausea, stomach pain, decreased appetite, headaches and fatigue have been commonly reported among workers exposed to asphalt.
- Several studies (Hanley and Miller 1996 a,b; Almaguer et al. 1996; Miller and Burr 1996 a,b, 1998; Kinnes et al. 1996; Sylvain and Miller 1996; Nyqvist 1978; Zeglio 1950) reported lower respiratory tract symptoms (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath) among exposed workers.
- One 2004 study conducted by Dr. Richard H. Weisler (Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center) suggested that exposure to low levels of hydrogen sulfide and possibly other airborne chemicals from nearby asphalt plants may have contributed to an increased suicide rate in a North Carolina community.
- According to a Fulton Hogan safety data sheet:
- Inhalation of vapours may cause irritation of the nose, throat and respiratory system.
- Skin could be irritated include redness, itching and swelling.
- It may be irritating to eyes including redness, itching and tearing.
- Health effects from exposure to asphalt fumes include headache, skin rash, sensitisation, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer (United States Department of Labour).
The noise from an asphalt plant is roughly 114 decibel or equivalent to a chainsaw or rock drill (Safework Australia). Or between a V8 supercar and a Boeing 727 jet.
Odour is recognised as one of the most debilitating repercussions of living near an asphalt plant.
- The Department of Health said asphalt or bitumen plants could produce strong odours, which could result in symptoms such as headaches. “Fumes from asphalt plants are also irritants and any health effects likely to be seen in the general public residing close to asphalt plants would be associated with odour and irritation i.e. runny nose and eye redness’’. (echonewspaper.com.au/upper-swan-bitumen-plant-investigation-continues/ November 30, 2017)
- According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, “residents living in the area of an asphalt road paving plant may detect odours from the plant. Odour detection depends on the emissions from the facility and the prevailing wind directions. Based on air sampling conducted near asphalt plants, residents may experience irritation from the odours associated with asphalt production.”
It would be unsafe to increase the amount of trucks on this route, particularly trucks carrying fuels to the site and asphalt out of the site. Teven Road is in a state of disrepair and is already burdened by trucks going to and from the Holcim quarry as well as trucks going to and from the Alstonville asphalt plant and North Teven quarry day and night. With two quarries already in Teven plus the Alstonville asphalt plant just 4km away, surely enough is enough.
Please do your own research. Google “is asphalt toxic”. And stand with us to say NO BLOODY WAY.