Stop the export of carcinogenic asphalt

28 October 2013

Stop the export of carcinogenic asphalt

SP Member of Parliament Henk van Gerven is urging Wilma Mansveld, Secretary of State for Environment and Infrastructure, to put an end to the dumping of carcinogenic asphalt in foreign countries. The approach towards the problem of undesirable exports of the tar-based asphalt which provokes cancer remains ‘much too weak,’ says Van Gerven. About half of the total production of this asphalt, a total of more than 660,000 tons in 2012, is sold abroad. According to Dutch regulations, asphalt containing tar must be thermally treated by a recognised processor. In this process, the substances containing the tar are broken down under heat. ‘Many local authorities find a balanced budget more important than public health and the environment,’ alleges Van Gerven.

Henk van Gerven en Patrick van Lunteren
Henk van Gerven with SP staff member Patrick van Lunteren

Asphalt processors currently transport it abroad, principally to such Baltic states as Estonia and Latvia, where the carcinogenic asphalt is simply reused for laying roads, airstrips and car parks. This may legally be carried out due to an unforeseen gap in the European Union regulations governing asphalt exports. ‘This gap would be easy to close,’ says Van Gerven. ‘In every public procurement contract it should be obligatory that the asphalt be transported by a recognised processor licensed for thermic purification.’

Henk van Gerven en Kees Jan de Vet
Henk van Gerven hands a report on the issue to Kees Jan de Vet of the Union of Dutch Municipalities (VNG)

‘Asphalt containing tar presents a danger to public health, increasing for example the possibility of contracting lung cancer, especially for people who have to work with it,’ Van Gerven points out. ‘It’s unacceptable that local authorities and processors, out of motives of gain, wilfully exploit gaps in the law.’

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