Granite Construction has been fined $36,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology for air pollution released from their asphalt plant near Moses Lake.
Granite Construction is required to control air emissions from the facility, including using covers over the conveyor belts that transport product within the plant. Ecology inspectors found the company operated the asphalt plant for eight days in September without the covers installed, resulting in excessive volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the gravel pit.
Operating the plant without these pollution controls increased the amount of dust and VOCs released into the air, both of which are threats to human health. Exposure to elevated levels of air pollution can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system, and some air pollutants are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans and animals.
In addition to operating without proper pollution control equipment working, the asphalt plant had an exhaust point closer to the ground than allowed, reducing the ability of the pollution to disperse higher in the air.
“Businesses that produce air pollution have an obligation to protect their workers and the public,” said Dave Knight, manager of Ecology’s Eastern Region air quality program. “We’re working with Granite Construction to make sure they follow the law and minimize pollution from their operations.”
This is the second time Ecology inspectors observed excessive air emissions from the asphalt plant. In June 2020, the asphalt plant operated within the gravel pit without the required pollution control equipment working. Granite Construction was issued a Notice of Correction for that violation in August 2020.
After being contacted by Ecology about their excessive air emissions in June 2020 and September 2021, Granite Construction corrected the issue.
Appeals to Ecology’s penalty may be made within 30 days to the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board.