On February 26 the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (PCTC) sponsored a webinar, “How to Fight for your Sealcoating Business,” that addressed efforts to ban refined coal tar-based sealer in New York. The webinar, presented via Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction, featured John and Bill Walsh of VelveTop Products, who shared their experiences and lessons learned interacting with a local government about an effort to ban refined tar-based pavement sealer. The webinar also featured Mike Juba, Koppers Inc., who talked about challenges facing the sealcoating industry and initiatives undertaken by PCTC to address challenges.
More than 280 people registered for the webinar, and following are answers to 21 questions posed by contractors during the webinar.
1. Does this ban only include Suffolk County? Is there a possibility of this issue spreading to other counties in upstate NY? Is there any interest in NJ for this ban?
Suffolk County is the only part of New York that has banned refined tar-based pavement sealer (RTS). NY State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has introduced a bill to ban RTS statewide (bill number A630). Contractors in New York State should contact their elected representatives in the state Assembly and Senate, asking them to oppose this bill. Another way for contractors to have their voices heard is through the New York Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) or through the New York state or local Chamber of Commerce. We are not aware of any similar activities in New Jersey.
2. Is there a counter suit or appeal process started to reverse the Suffolk County legislation?
Not at this time.
3. How can we identify if this is legislation being proposed or even talked about in our market?
It can be difficult to learn about what is being talked about within local governments without going to every public meeting. Many states have state and local chapters of the Associated Building & Contractors, an organization that tries to stay on top of government activities in their areas. Likewise, the Chamber of Commerce has many state and local chapters. If you are a member of an ABC chapter or a state or local affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce, ask them to help watch for developments concerning RTS.
4. Did you find any liability issues with having previously sold and/or applied a product that had just been banned? Will contractors be responsible or included in any civil lawsuit?
PCTC is not aware of any product liability lawsuits.
5. Who was beating the drum to have coal tar emulsions banned?
The movement was started by activist employees of the City of Austin, TX, and the Austin, TX, office of the U.S. Geological Survey. Austin and U.S. taxpayers are financing their activism.
6. Has there been any testing that proves refined coal tar sealer (RTS) is damaging to environment?
No. RTS passes EPA’s TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) and VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)emissions testing protocols. TCLP is a test of how much material leaches into the environment. VOC tests measure how much gaseous material is released.
7. What can we tell a customer about the safety of refined coal tar? We know it is a better product but we need to give the customer good info about the safety issues.
Many PCTC member companies have been owned by the same families for two, three or even four generations, and many members of those families have worked with RTS for most of their lives, starting when they were very young. These are the people with the highest and longest exposure to RTS from manufacture to application. Within the memories of these families PCTC has not been able to identify any chronic health effects.