Photo of Senator Kennedy.

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Kennedy Leads Final Passage of Bill Banning Toxic Coal Tar From Connecticut Roadways

Coal-based road sealants are unstable products that cause cancer in people and wildlife

Calling for greater efforts to protect the environment and public health from toxic substances, Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) recently led broad, bipartisan passage of HB 5884, a bill to ban coal tar sealants on state and local highways.

“Coal tar is an unstable, poisonous product that pollutes our soil and waterways,” said Senator Kennedy, Co-Chair of the Environment Committee. “Coal tar contains high levels of chemicals known to cause health problems in people, fish and wildlife. This bill is a common sense measure to prohibit the use of a paving product that carries serious health risks. Two states have already banned the use of coal tar, and I look forward to Connecticut becoming the third.”

Coal tar, which is used as a roadway, driveway, and surface sealant, contains high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to be cancer-causing. Unlike asphalt sealants, coal tar sealants are not stable products, and break down over time into dust particles. These particles contaminate street dust that children can breathe or seep into waterways where they poison aquatic life. Cleaning up coal tar contamination has cost some municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars in remediation expenses.

The town of Pomfret, Connecticut recently used coal tar-based sealants without realizing the risks. Following a local outcry, Pomfret is now moving to enact a local ban on any future use of coal tar. Pomfret’s First Selectman is now among those calling for passage of a statewide ban.

House Bill 5884 prohibits the use or application of sealants made from coal tar on any state or local road. The Commissioners of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection support the new law and will enforce the ban. Many national retailers, including Home Depot and Lowes, have already stopped selling sealants with coal tar.

Now that House Bill has passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives, it moves to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and awaits his signature.

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