Department of Ecology News Release - April 10, 2015

Asphalt plant fined for Columbia Gorge air emissions

YAKIMA – Kerr Contractors of Woodburn, Ore., has been fined $25,000 for air quality violations at a portable asphalt plant operated near Dallesport, Wash., over a two-year period.

In March 2012, the Washington Department of Ecology issued Kerr an air quality permit to operate the portable asphalt plant. As part of the permit, Kerr was required to conduct an air emissions source test within 30 calendar days of starting operations.

Kerr produced asphalt for 19 days in 2012, between May and July in the Columbia River Gorge community. It wasn’t until operations were restarted in April 2013 that the air emissions source test was conducted.

During the 2013 test, the plant’s primary pollution control unit failed, resulting in particulate emissions greater than allowed by their air quality permit.  Though Kerr states that they made repairs to the plant before resuming production, the plant continued operations without additional testing for 11 days over the next three weeks, for a total of 16 production days in 2013.

“We have testing requirements in place because emissions from asphalt plants are of particular concern to us,” said Sue Billings, air quality manager in Yakima.

Toxic components of hot mix asphalt emissions include metal particulates, and partially combusted hydrocarbons. Emission limits in Ecology’s permits are designed to allow widespread operation of asphalt plants throughout the state, while maintaining appropriate limits on the amount of toxics entering the air.

“We appreciate that Kerr is making repairs to their asphalt plant so they can compete for more paving jobs in our area,” Billings said.

Kerr has 30 days to pay the penalty or to file an appeal with the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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Contacts:

Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral