Town Council Hears Black Tar Substance Concerns from Residents

Wood Estates North and Westwood Estates residents are most affected.


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.”

Stephanie Caldwell September 12, 2012 at 02:15 PM
That's scary. It makes you worried about other environmental & health impacts.
coventry voter-Jay September 12, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Dont worry, The town knows all about the asphalt plant at the end of airport road. They have allowed it to be there. . I'll bet the problem goes away when the plant shuts down for the winter, and start to happen again in the spring. . Shame on the Councilman who distrit that plant is in for not shutting it down. . Everybody knows it there. Just ask Paul Sprague he has allowed it to be there.
rogerdavidj September 12, 2012 at 09:09 PM
coventry voter always seems to be in the know, maybe he wants to be part of the Flat River 5 Man Show. a candidate already running is he?, me thinketh he is, yes indeed in which district a councilman does he wish to be? i think i know the answer, it's not 5,4,1, or 3
In41time September 12, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I'm at least 3 miles from where this problem is being reported and I've had a similar black substance deposited on my truck and RV roof and outdoor furniture etc. I'm not a scientist but from my observations it appears to be some kind of mold and maybe is the same thing I see causing black streaking on light-colored ashphalt roof shingles in some of the houses in my neighborhood and many others. .
concerned resident September 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM
you are correct sir, the problem goes away when the asphalt plants shut down for the winter. How about that........ Mr Hoover knows more than he is letting on, just an opinion of course
Jim September 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Commercial aircraft are notorious sources of environmental pollution, Coventry and the area affected in particular are directly below the flight paths for many routes, to Green and Logan as well as international traffic . Perhaps more than a coincidence?
Emile Lavoie Jr September 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Isn't anyone concerned that the High School is in that area?
mad hatter September 13, 2012 at 01:58 PM
folks... has anyone noticed that we have a scale outbreak in wood estates?? these little bugs on the oak trees secrete "honeydew" which is like sugar water that the ants eat. it molds very quickly. anyone notice an explosion in the black ant population? go pull a branch down from any red oak and you will see. also notice that the sidewalks under trees are much more black than sidewalks out in the open. this demonstrates that the black is coming from the trees. make sense? there may be something from the asphalt plants but its not the black mold that we see everywhere. and yes, when winter comes there will be no more black because the scale will be hibernating till spring. do some research and you will see what im talking about.
Leave RI September 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Has anyone seen my caps lock or shift key?
mad hatter September 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
it slows me down too much, lol.
Leave RI September 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
haHa GoOd pOiNt
John September 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I think you are on to something, Problem is if it's the planes or the plant nothing will be done! As far as "Madd Hatter" I don't live near wood estates and have all pine trees around me. I put up a brand new deck with white plastic and it's almost black. It's not mold.
mad hatter September 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM
john, its throughout RI and in south east CT. there is a concentration in wood estates. the droplets they produce are super fine like a mist that can be carried a long way in the wind. i bet you have oak within 1000 feet of your place. like the DEM said, its mold and fungus. come to wood estates and check the sidewalks under the trees. i did a ton of research this spring and all evidence points to scale. if i thought it were something else, i would be the first one to lead the charge against any commercial polluters.
coventry voter-Jay September 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Maybe this was already said but, any thought of the balck stuff blowing in from the CT tire burning plant just over the line?
RS September 17, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I live in the Western end of Town and we have no black coating on anything. I've been to the tire plant and the only think that comes out is steam... It's a very clean operation.


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