LETTER: Criminal charges should not be considered after paving project

Our community needs to speak out against the county’s consideration of bringing criminal charges against Doug Hoffmann for how he handled the removal of the asphalt millings from the highway resurfacing project, and here’s why.

Environmental policy is full of trade-offs and compromise. In last week’s Beachcomber article (County targets stockpiles of asphalt millings, Sept. 6), both Hoffmann and Chan have legitimate points, and dealing with the asphalt millings is a complicated issue. All sources of pollution need to be taken into account. Chipped asphalt leaches tiny amounts of carcinogens, both organics and metals, while diesel smoke releases carcinogenic chemicals into our airways as well as climate-changing carbon dioxide. From reading a research paper from The University of Wisconsin, their experiment showed that the leachate from recycled asphalt contained toxins at a level so low it would pass drinking water standards. Ironically, nobody is worrying about the fresh asphalt that has degrees of magnitude more toxicity to both air and water, nor the diesel fuel that delivers and removes it.

It appears in my analysis that recycling the asphalt millings by surfacing island driveways and roads rather than trucking tons of waste off the island is the better trade-off with less net environmental impact. It is entirely inappropriate for the county to consider criminal charges in resolving this dispute.

— Joe Yarkin

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