Maine companies want to use toxic soil in road construction. This is an unnecessary risk
There is an effort to allow companies to bring soils from out of state contaminated with lead, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and other toxic chemicals, treat them with an untested and unproven technology, and then use the treated contaminated soil as fill for constructing roads and parking lots throughout Maine.
The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee is considering rules to do this, and we strongly urge legislators to reject these rules.
The treatment technology, called “asphalt emulsion,” entails spraying liquid asphalt on contaminated soil and allowing it to dry. The treated soil could then be used under roads, parking lots and buildings, and in other construction projects.
There are many unanswered questions. What happens when road surfaces crack and water leaks through these contaminated soils underneath the road surface? What happens when workers tear up a road over these soils for resurfacing? Will the contaminants spread in the wind? Will tearing up the road surface let lead or PCBs leak into groundwater or nearby rivers and streams?
Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has allowed the use of asphalt emulsion in the past, but only for soils contaminated with petroleum — not soils with significant amounts of other dangerous chemicals. Now, companies in Maine want to bring in contaminated soils from out-of-state urban or formerly industrial areas, and these soils may contain compounds other than petroleum, such as lead, PCBs and asbestos.
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