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Frequently asked questions:
- What is asphalt?
Asphalt is a dark brown or black viscous material that can be naturally occurring or generated as residue from the distillation of petroleum crude oil. Asphalt is largely inert, recyclable, and is often a material of choice for use in potable water or regional streams and waterway applications. As the most recycled material in North America, asphalt is an excellent material for sustainable roofing, building and roadway applications.
Although asphalt is mainly used for paving roads, the versatility of asphalt is what makes it such a widely used material.Â Among others, it can be found in the following sectors:
- Transportation (e.g. roads, railway beds or airport runways, taxiways, etc.)
- Construction (roofing, shingles, below grade waterproofing and coatings)
- Potable Water (Municipal water pipe coatings, reservoir and pond linings)
- Recreational (playgrounds, bicycle paths, running tracks, tennis courts)
- Agriculture (barn floors, greenhouse floors)
- Industrial (Landfill lining, erosion and pollution control)
- What does it mean if you can smell odors coming from an asphalt plant?
Asphalt at ambient temperature has little to no odor, however because asphalt is solid at room temperature, processing and handling must be done at elevated temperatures which cause the asphalt to emit its characteristic petroleum odor. This is why one can detect the odor of asphalt during road paving, but not after the finished roadway has cooled and has been opened for use. Odors generally diminish with increasing distance; however this can be dependent upon the individuals sensitivity to smell, atmospheric temperatures, and the strength and direction of the prevailing winds.
- Does living near an asphalt plant pose an increased health risk?
An asphalt plant must meet strict emission criteria to receive an operating permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Asphalt plants, in general, do not present an elevated health risk to the surrounding community.
If the permit criteria are met, emissions would not be expected to pose a public health hazard. Asphalt plant emissions may lead to odors in the community, but the potential for adverse health effects is expected to be very low, if any. Exposure investigations have been conducted in a number of communities throughout the country where asphalt plants have been operating. These studies have measured various pollutants in ambient (outdoor) air and found the concentrations to be below levels that would represent a public health hazard to residents of those communities.
- What components of asphalt cause the characteristic odor?
The components of asphalt vary depending on the source of crude oil, the type of asphalt being made, and the process used. Many of the these components also are emitted by other combustion sources such as cars and trucks, fireplaces and wood stoves, wildfires, and industries; all of which are often found in outdoor air at low levels.
ADEM General NPDES Permit # ALG020057
ADEM SID Permit # IU396300096
Results of latest semi-annually compliance reports conducted by TTL:
There were no deviations from the permit observed during the weekly inspections conducted during the reporting period.
There were no instances of deviations from permit regulatory requirements during the reporting period.