Build a better asphalt plant

To the Editor:

I am writing because I am very concerned about pollution on Martha’s Vineyard. The asphalt plant near the Blinker has been enlarged to accommodate the new roundabout project that is being built. It should be noted here that all the towns on Martha’s Vineyard except Oak Bluffs did not want this roundabout. The asphalt tower that was erected is much higher than the trees and was erected without a town permit. It also violates local zoning laws. Nearby communities have had very bad pollution from this new plant. Petrochemical pollution is cancer causing pollution.

Asphalt at this plant is made by the hot mix method. That means that the tar has to be heated to 300°F and then mixed with gravel and sand to make asphalt. Some of the equipment at this plant is outdated and is decades old. Fortunately, there is a new, modern, low emission way to make asphalt. In this process the tar only needs to be heated to 100°F. This results in significantly less pollution, both where it is made and where it is applied.

The tourist business of Martha’s Vineyard relies on a clean, healthy environment. Therefore, anything that threatens this clean environment should not be tolerated. Why not build a modern, clean 21st-century asphalt plant. Martha’s Vineyard should produce what it needs without polluting the environment. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers could bring their students to this site to show what a modern, clean 21st-century facility looks like.

Pollution is a cost of production. This should not be offloaded onto innocent people that are outside the buyer-seller relationship. Producing asphalt in a clean way might mean that the owners of the plant will take less profit, and the surrounding communities may have to pay a little more for this clean asphalt. It is always less expensive to deal with pollution at the source rather than cleaning up after the fact. Do we really want to accept air pollution on Martha’s Vineyard?

Richard Fried

Oak Bluffs