Front Porch Blog

Boone Limits Coal Tar Sealants- Fish and River Lovers Celebrate

Last night (February 15) the Boone Town Council passed strict new regulations aimed to limit the impacts of coal tar based asphalt sealants.

Coal tar based asphalt sealants are terrible for the environment and have serious human health effects because they are a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). If you have ever stood in a parking lot that is really black, that is coal tar asphalt sealant, and if it smelled like tar or weird chemicals, those are the PAHs. There is really no reason to use this type of sealant, because asphalt based sealants are the same price and are far less toxic.

Although, the regulations do not outright ban the use of coal tar sealants, they do make it much more difficult. The regulations set up a permitting process, for anyone wishing to apply a pavement sealant. There will be a minimal fee for non coal tar based sealants, and a much higher fee for coal tar sealants. The permitting process is designed to allow for education on pavement sealants, and to ensure that sealants are applied in a safe manner (like when there is no chance of rain). The new permitting process will be implemented April 1, to allow for time to develop education materials and finalize the fee structure.

These new regulations are in response to the Hodges Creek fish kill. This past summer the BB&T on Highway 105 in Boone applied coal tar based asphalt sealant to their parking lot in the rain. The sealant washed off into Hodges Creek, killing all life in the creek until its confluence with Boone Creek, near the mall, 1.5 miles downstream. Shea Tuberty of Appalachian State told the town council that he had done sampling in Hodges Creek in January, little life has returned to the Creek, six months after the spill.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the town council to stand up for clean streams!

An expert kayaker with a serious passion for protecting our waterways, Eric served as our Water Quality Specialist for the Appalachian Water Watch team from 2010 to 2015.


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