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Ann Arbor's ban on coal tar sealants also includes any pavement sealant that has a PAH content of higher than .1 percent, which essentially restricts the use of sealants to petroleum-based sealing products. The city's ordinance prohibits any person from selling or applying coal tar or other PAH content sealant within the city; nor may a person allow such sealants to be applied on their property.
Under the ordinance, all commercial applicators must register with the city prior to applying pavement sealant in the city. Applicators that register must pay a registration fee and provide the sealant product name, type of use and PAH content. Those who violate the ordinance are subject to a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000.
While the city's ban went into effect on July 3, Matt Naud, environmental coordinator for the city, said enforcement and a registration process will begin after the first of the year.
"Registration won't start until January 1," he said. "The tough part was to get word out. People have jobs booked, and we didn't want to slow any of that work."
Naud said the city mailed notices to all sealcoat applicators within a 30-mile radius of the city, as well as reaching out to the three main Michigan manufacturers of sealcoat. He said applicators who aren't aware of the ban aren't likely to be fined immediately. "If I talk to a contractor once and they do it again, then we will have a problem," he said.
Naud said the issue came to light when the city was notified of contamination on city property. Specifically, he said there was a detention pond on Plymouth Road that was adjacent to a parking lot that had been treated with coal tar-based sealcoat. Sediments in the detention pond had high levels of PAH.
"Now, you have contamination that is leaving a private property and entering a detention pond that might have to be dealt with as hazardous material," Naud said.
The city in previous years had to deal with a massive clean up at a former MichCon gas treatment site on the Huron River. About $4 million at the time was spent on cleanup, which was primarily funded by DTE Energy.
"This wasn't on our radar," Naud said of the contamination believed to be associated with coal tar sealants. "When it came up and we saw the USGS data, we wanted to get ahead of it."
Naud said there haven't been any legal challenges to the city's ordinance. If there were, he said, he believes the city has a right and responsibility to control contaminants that enter the stormwater system, which it must do under federal clean water laws....continued on page 9