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Green Bay bans use of coal-tar sealants

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Alders unanimously passed an ordinance banning the application and sale of coal-tar sealants throughout the city at their meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Council members were onboard with the ban due to the high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in coal tar sealants and the health risk it causes to citizens of Green Bay.

“From the public works perspective, we strongly endorse this action and feel that the reduction of PAHs in the environment would be a good thing,” said Steven Grenier, director of Public Works. “So DPW is on board with this.”

Anyone who violates the ban by applying a coal-tar sealant product at his or her residence will be fined up to $500.

Any contractor, applicator, developer or commercial owner who violates the ban will be fined up to $1,000 for the first offense, up to $2,000 on a second offense within five years of the first violation and up to $5,000 on a third offense within seven years of the first violation.

Each day of violation will be counted as a separate offense.

Alders took their support of the ban one step further and passed a resolution advocating for a state-wide ban on coal-tar sealants, which will be sent to the Legislature.

District 9 Alder Brian Johnson voted against the resolution because he said it advocates for a state change without state-wide knowledge.

“We’ve supported resolutions here that have directly impacted residents in Green Bay, who we are elected to represent,” Johnson said. “We can support resolutions that advocate to bring support back to our community, but this one does neither of those. We sent the message by creating the ordinance that the City of Green Bay supports a ban on this. Approving this resolution says that we are state-wide experts on this issue. In the absence of that state knowledge, in terms of what’s best for the state of Wisconsin, our jurisdiction is the City of Green Bay, and that is who I am elected to represent. And it’s for that reason that I feel that this is an issue that is better taken up by state-elected officials.”

District 7 Alder Randy Scannell noted this is a non-binding resolution forcing state-elected officials to do nothing, but it tells them this is an issue and concern, and the city supports a state-wide ban.

“It still effects us,” Scannell said. “We have taken care of Green Bay, but we are surrounded by communities that haven’t passed this with waterways and no geographic boundaries. This is something that still concerns us. I think to throw in our two cents to get their motor moving is well worth our two cents.”

District 1 Alder Barbara Dorff agreed with Scannell on the importance of the city showing support for a state-wide ban.

“I think our opinions are very important,” Dorff said. “And I think they are very important to the legislators that represent us at the state level. I think this is a very valuable resolution to send to the state.”

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