Recycled Asphalt is still a threat to the Nisqually Valley

The Lakeside Industries plant was built in the Nisqually Valley area of Thurston county. This Nisqually Valley area has zoning regulations prohibiting RAP (Recycled Asphalt) in asphalt manufacturing. Now the Thurston County Commissioners, this GOP Tea Party group, is going to change all of this, and allow Recycled Asphalt into the Nisqually Valley.

Recycled asphalt is more polluting than regular asphalt. The recycled asphalt has more facets than regular asphalt. These facets of the rock are what dissolve in exposure to water.

Environmental and public hazards

The bitumen binder used in asphalt paving applications contains a relatively high concentration of a family of organic compounds that has the potential to pose human health and environmental concerns in certain circumstances, especially when asphalt material is ground into very small particles that easily blow off of or wash from the surface.

These compounds, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are present in RAP at higher levels than the criteria established by the NJDEP’s Site Remediation Program guidance for general use in a loose fashion on land. RAP used alone without a paved top surface has the potential to significantly migrate from the roadway through the actions of water, wind, and physical displacement and possibly contaminate surrounding soils and/or surface water sediments. Traffic traveling on the unpaved RAP could generate dust containing the compounds referenced above and the dust would be a major migration route of the RAP to the surrounding environment.

Lakeside production manager Bill Dempsey, who wants this polluting Recycled Asphalt, said the company knew about the restrictions when they built the plant off Durgin Road Southeast, in 2008. This industry is inside the Holroyd gravel mine, which supplies rock for Lakeside’s asphalt.

“We were opposed to them doing the asphalt in the first place,” said Jan Pigman, owner of the 10-acre Pigman’s Organic Produce Patch, which is about a half a mile away from the asphalt plant. She sells her farm’s corn, strawberries and other produce at the Olympia Farmers Market, and she is concerned that recycled products run through the plant could carry toxic materials and cause pollution. If that happened, her farm could be at risk of losing its organic certification, she said.

“We don’t want RAP because we don’t know what kind of pollutants are apt to be in that,” Pigman said, “ we do not want the capability to produce 300 tons of asphalt per hour.“

Currently the Lakeside Industries company has tried to get Thurston county’s regulations, which are part of the Nisqually Sub-Area Planning Area, amended to allow recycled asphalt. This is happening right now, April 2017. Lifting Thurston County’s RAP prohibition would  open the door for the company to recycle shingles, which are 99 percent oil, and could be crushed and added into the asphalt mix. That is the bottom line, we are talking about an industry using oil based products, in the Nisqually Valley, this valley that floods every few years here in Thurston County.

“The Nisqually Valley is zoned for agricultural use,” the farmers say. There are many farms in this fertile area, as was mentioned above.

Lakeside’s asphalt plant was approved in April 2001 by a hearing examiner, but foes appealed the decision to the Thurston County Commission, saying it conflicted with the county plan adopted in 1992 to protect the valley. This Thurston County Plan to protect the Nisqually valley used many different groups working on it, particularly the Nisqually Tribe that relies on the fish from the Nisqually River. The old Thurston County commissioners overturned the approval of the RAP Plant, from the hearings examiner. Lakeside Industries appealed their decision in Mason County Superior Court in June 2002.

A Mason County judge ruled against the county, saying the plan did not prohibit asphalt plants. The county and opponents appealed that ruling to state superior court which ruled that an asphalt plant could be built in the valley, but it would not be allowed to process RAP. So that is the law right now. The GOP Tea Party commissioners will probably get their way, and allow RAP in the Nisqually Valley. Please get involved. Please help us with this issue, email us with your comments; zharbor@cs.com.

L. Riner is a supporter of WIP, a lover of Thurston County, and a worker for a clean Thurston County for future generations.