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First in the Nation Ban on Coal Tar Now Law

The 2011 state legislative session brought good news for clean water in Washington, when the legislature enacted a first-in-the-nation ban on toxic coal tar sealants (ESHB 1721).

The 2011 state legislative session brought good news for clean water in Washington, when the legislature enacted a first-in-the-nation ban on toxic coal tar sealants (ESHB 1721). 

The bill specifically prohibits the sale of coal tar in Washington in 2012 and prevents the application of coal tar in 2013. Coal tar sealants leave a residue responsible for significant amounts of stormwater pollution and toxic contamination that harms our lakes and waterways.

The Washington legislature passed the coal tar ban with bi-partisan support despite opposition from the Virginia based coal tar industry association. “Washington has long been a leader preventing exposure to harmful toxins,” said Joan Crooks of the Washington Environmental Council. “This bill is another big step forward to ensure we are protecting children’s health and the environment from harmful water pollutants.”

More background here.

United States Geological Service (USGS) studies have shown that coal tar sealant contains high levels of suspected carcinogens.  Coal tar is a byproduct from coal use in steel manufacturing and coal tar sealant is available in products applied to driveways, parking lots and playgrounds.  Cities and businesses spend millions of dollars cleaning up contaminated sediments and pollution from coal tar and cleaning it up is expensive. While coal tar is not widely used in Washington, it is available, and the USGS has found coal tar contamination in Lake Washington and Lake Ballinger.

 “I’m proud we passed the first statewide ban against this nasty toxic threat before it can further contaminate our waters and threaten the health of our people,” said Rep. David Frockt, who sponsored the bill. “We are the first, but we won’t be the last, because we are leading the nation in the right direction.”

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