Kenmore residents spark further discussion of Cadman asphalt plant

Kenmore residents continue to sound off about the odor and perceived ill effects of asphalt emissions. Hannah Saunders

By Hannah Saunders

Several individuals voiced their concerns about the Cadman asphalt plant during an open public comment period at the Kenmore City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 20. The council was also presented with updates regarding upcoming permits for the facility.

Kenmore resident Stacey Valenzuela was the first to speak during the public comment portion of the hearing.

“For almost 15 years, Kenmore residents have been filing odor complaints. It’s extremely disappointing that after so many residents reported concerns and ill effects of the asphalt emissions, they are not of greater concern,” Valenzuela said. “We need the city to support lowering greenhouse gases actively.”

David Morton, a Ph.D. chemist, living near Redmond, also spoke on the issue.

“The Cadman asphalt plant in Kenmore has been creating a huge stench that at times makes the air nearly unbreathable for people downwind of the plant,” Morton said.

Morton brought up how the asphalt plant odors are not just nuisance odors from soup factories or composting facilities.

“Cadman is supposed to use a binder called ‘asphalt cement’ to glue gravel and sand together,” Morton said. “To make asphalt paving mixes, the asphalt cement is supposed to be solvent-free, but when Cadman illegally uses cutback asphalt—which is asphalt cement diluted with kerosene—tons of kerosene fumes evaporate into the air.”

Morton noted that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), which addresses clean air complaints and assists with regulations in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Pierce counties, has a responsibility of ensuring Cadman only uses solvent-free asphalt cement.

“It’s clear that no one, neither the PSCAA nor DOT [Department of Transportation] has been testing Cadman’s tanks of asphalt binder,” Morton said.

Morton mentioned how the Environmental Protection Agency worked with the asphalt industry to come up with ways to reduce the levels of air pollution in the past.

“It’s just plain bad science to say that the air pollution from Cadman’s asphalt plant is safe to breathe without knowing the ingredients the plant uses while knowing that the plant has used hundreds of thousands of gallons of cutback asphalt,” Morton said. “Kenmore residents have complained for years about the stench and health effects from breathing Cadman’s air pollution.”

Not long after public comments, Director of Development Services Bryan Hampson and Dennis McLerran of Cascadia Law Group provided the council updates about the Cadman asphalt plant.

“We’ve been monitoring closely the process that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has been going through with respect to a new permit for the Cadman facility,” McLerran said. “As some folks know, there was some equipment installed without a benefited permit, and the clean air agency issued a notice of violation and now they’ve been going through a permitting process.”

McLerran expects a permit draft from the PSCAA as early as Jan. 2022, or no later than the first quarter of the new year. Once the draft permit is issued, a public comment period opens for council members and citizens to review and voice opinions.

McLerran spoke about the requirements and factors they will be searching for in the draft permit, including air monitoring results to see the proposed health risks and limitations in the permit process and materials allowed at the facility.

“We’ll be looking for things like testing requirements, stack testing requirements, and so on—and odor control measures because health risks are different than odor control,” McLerran said. “Odor can exist even when there are no health risks associated with the levels of air pollutants coming from a facility.”

Following the draft permit comment period, the PSCAA will consider input and issue a final permit, which comes with an opportunity to appeal.

Eviction Moratorium

Near the end of the city council meeting, a topic of discussion was whether to bring back an ordinance to extend further the residential eviction moratorium, which will expire on Jan. 15, 2022. The moratorium was put in place in March of 2020 due to state and city emergency declarations resulting from COVID-19. Council decided not to extend the residential tenant eviction moratorium.

“I really appreciate this item coming back to us—it’s very timely,” Councilmember Corina Pfeil said. “Looking at what’s happened here in our state with the direction of Gov. Inslee, I believe it’s time to move beyond emergency measures to address the crisis that we have today and that will continue through real policy with policy solutions. I think that’s something we’re going to have to do really soon here.”

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