At a Work Session of the Coventry Town Council Monday night, over 40 residents from Wood Estates North and Westwood Estates attended Town Council Chambers to voice many concerns about possible dangers to health and personal property from a black and sticky substance that continues to be deposited on their cars, driveways, trees and properties.
Tammy Duxbury of Wood Estates North said it is more than just a “pervasive black, oily sheen” that worries her family and other neighbors. “We have had independent tests done that indicate the presence of TPH, or total petroleum hydrocarbons and titanium. Some TPH, like benzene, is carcinogenic.”
Town Manager, Thomas Hoover, a resident of Wood Estates North, has also been affected. He brought out a plastic cover that had been discolored from the unknown substance.
“Tests from samples we took from some sites in the area indicated they are a variety of molds and fungus,” said David Chopy, Rhode Island DEM/Compliance & Inspection Director of his microscopic analysis of the substance. Chemical tests were not conducted, he added.
Chopy and a representative from the URI Master Gardener program agreed that the substance looks like what has been affecting not only Rhode Island but southeastern Connecticut, also.
Various residents told of spending up to several hundred dollars for tests or to clean their properties. A few asked if they could be reimbursed for the cost.
Town Council President Cote asked if “the white elephant” in the room was the belief that one or both asphalt plants in the area might be one of the causes of the oily residue and most raised their hands.
“We would think it would cost $7,600 for an independent test to be made to find out what the substance is,” said Duxbury. “But we want it be totally independent of the town or be fully certified to conduct these tests.”
“That is a lot of money, but we have no choice but to find the money with which to do this,” said Cote. “The council will act on this, find the money and get results. All of us want to know what is causing this.”