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Source: Newsday

Suffolk bars coal sealants for pavement


Posted: July 11, 2011
Originally Published: July 8, 2011

Suffolk County has become the latest government to bar the sale and use of coal tar sealants, a product used to coat driveways and parking lots that has raised concerns about environmental and health risks.

County Executive Steve Levy signed the measure Friday, but only after reaching a deal with legislators to delay the ban's implementation until January to give companies that use coal tar time to switch to other products.

Environmentalists, who are concerned about contaminated dust from the sealants washing into streams and harbors, approved of the delay.

"The objective isn't to hurt small businesses. The objective is to protect the bays," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Fifteen other governments, including Washington, D.C., and Washington state, are known to have banned the product.

Industry groups maintain the product is environmentally safe and that alternatives, such as asphalt, are more expensive.

On Thursday, Levy vetoed for the second time in as many weeks a proposal that would have authorized funding to keep the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility open through the rest of the year.

But the sponsor of the latest measure, Legis. Kate Browning (D-Shirley), noted Thursday it was passed June 21 with more than enough support to override the veto. An override vote could come as soon as the next legislative meeting, Aug. 2.

The proposal calls for the county to continue operating the Yaphank facility using Medicaid funds.

Lawmakers had turned to that approach after Levy vetoed an earlier measure that would have changed the county charter to allow use of money from an $18 million fund set aside to pay off the building's outstanding bonds if the nursing home were closed or sold.

Browning spokesman Josh Slaughter said the legislature will try to override the veto of her measure.

Levy, though, hasn't decided the fate of the 264-bed facility.

The county could solicit bids either to sell the building and its assets, thus closing it, or to find someone to operate a scaled-back version of the nursing home in a public-private partnership.

Two nursing home employees and one resident have sued to prevent the home's closure.