Southwest area residents have asked the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a business on Frank Road that they fear may be releasing asbestos into the air.
The business, Roof to Road, recycles residential roofing shingles into blacktop for road construction.
Resident Don Parsons alerted the Southwest Area Commission that he feared the company might be releasing harmful agents when it crushes shingles. He also did not think it was legal for them to have large piles of garbage within the city limits.
The EPA plans to issue Roof to Road a draft permit to continue operating on Frank Road. The business has been operating without a permit.
Because they have since requested a permit via the EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance, the only penalty the EPA may impose is to double the price of the permit, said Teresa Mills of the Buckeye Environmental Network.
"By law the EPA cannot refuse to offer them a permit," Mills said.
However, because of the concerns of residents, the agency will not issue a permanent permit as originally planned, but a draft permit instead.
Mills received a copy of the proposed draft permit and said it was very strict.
The permit limits the number of hours the business operates to 900 or less in a year and it may not process more than 12,000 tons of shingles. The facility will also be portable such that it can "pack up and be taken away at any time," Mills said.
Under no conditions may it process shingles containing asbestos. Any shingles that may possibly contain asbestos must be tested and, if confirmed hazardous, sent to a landfill that accepts harmful materials such as the Franklin County landfill.
The EPA determined the particulate emissions to be "very, very low", Mills said.
The company will spray the shingles with water during the grinding process to control the dust in the air. The water will drain into the ground.
Roof to Road only operates in the summer when a demand exists for asphalt.
The company will face the SWAC because it has requested a zoning variance, which the commission may deny.
Neither the EPA restrictions nor the possibility of blocked zoning appeases Parsons who considers Roof to Road "a blight on the Frank Road corridor."
"Why is this guy allowed to move into our neighborhood and is free to go after operating without a permit?" Parsons said. "Road to Roof works against making Columbus and Franklin Township a better place. Nobody wants to be a neighbor to asbestos."
Parsons said he did not believe the business owner’s "word of honor" provided enough assurance to neighbors that their air would remain asbestos-free.
Due to deadline restraints, Roof to Road could not be reached for comment.