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Shelly Asphalt: What's the problem?

News on Shelly Asphalt Plant # 91

Asphalt plants release toxic air emissions, sickening odors and heavy dust into the surrounding neighborhoods. The plants use waste oil to heat sand and gravel, and then mix the aggregate with liquid asphalt from refineries. The plants usually have several storage tanks and aggregate storage piles on site. Asphalt plants in Ohio have been able to operate under old standards and get away with excessive pollution because they are poorly regulated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Pollution from these plants includes volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide. These compounds can impact our developmental and reproductive organs as well as the central nervous system. Some organics are suspected or known to cause cancer. There are more than 300 asphalt plants in Ohio, all of which contribute to increased air pollution in the state.

Doesn’t the Ohio EPA take care of this?

Here’s how the asphalt plants avoid tighter restrictions on air pollution: when they fail their stack emission tests and do not meet compliance with their old permits, the Ohio EPA simply grants them a new permit.

With each new permit, plants are allowed to release higher levels of emissions and pollute more. Does the Ohio EPA really think this is in the best interest of the surrounding communities?

In 2002, the Westerville asphalt plant failed its stack emissions tests. The plant released twice as much volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide than its permit (known as a "permit-to-install") allows. Despite this major violation, the plant continued to operate without compliance with its permit-to-install for more than two years.

No adequate control equipment exists at the plant to control both gaseous emissions from the stack and fugitive emissions from open sources such as silos, storage tanks, and piles.


Campaign Progress: Community group forces changes at the plant

With the help of Ohio Citizen Action, Westerville neighbors formed an environmental watchdog group, Citizens for Clean Air (CCA), in April 2004, to pressure Shelly to reduce pollution and eliminate odors. Neighbors began keeping pollution odor logs and documenting malfunctions at the plant.

Ohio Citizen Action and Citizens for Clean Air have already made significant progress. The month of August marked a campaign milestone when Shelly decided to withdraw a proposed new permit, which would have allowed them to increase their air pollution. Other important developments in the campaign so far include:

  • Neighbors met with the President and Vice-President of the Shelly Materials and made recommendations on how to reduce pollution and eliminate odors. The Shelly management acknowledged the odor problems and made a commitment to work on the air issues.
  • The company invested, according to their own estimate, almost $200,000 to improve their asphalt-making process. This included installing a new burner and a vapor recovery system. However, this has not helped eliminate the odors.
  • The Shelly Company conducted and passed a voluntary stack test in June 2004.
  • The Ohio EPA fined Shelly Materials for surface water violations and ordered the company to stop illegal discharges from the truck washing operations in September 2004.
  • In response to public pressure, the U.S. EPA launched an investigation of Shelly and other asphalt companies in Ohio.
  • In October 2004, at a meeting with Westerville neighbors, President of Shelly Materials informed the group of a proposed joint venture between Shelly and Kokosing companies (each has their own asphalt plant in Westerville). The joint venture would enable both companies to make asphalt while operating just one plant in Westerville. This would significantly cut down emissions, odors, and other environmental concerns. The neighbors are still waiting to hear more details about this proposed joint venture between Shelly and Kokosing. Citizens for Clean Air expressed strong interest in being part of the planning stages for the joint venture to ensure the community's interests are represented.

Please write the Shelly Company

Daniel J. Montgomery, President
Shelly Materials, Inc.
80 Park Drive, P.O. Box 266
Thornville, OH 43076

Ask him to --

  • Become a good neighbor by working with Citizens for Clean Air to eliminate odors.
  • Provide information and invite Citizens for Clean Air to sit in on the planning stages for the proposed joint venture between Shelly and Kokosing.
  • Respond to your letter.

For more information or to get involved, contact Simona Vaclavikova, Columbus Area Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action, (216) 861-5200.