|Asphalt produced by Virginia Paving is stored in the silos.|
The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote April 19 on a zoning application from Vulcan Materials Co. that calls for an expansion of its concrete facility in an industrial area in Mason District near Interstate 395 along with a new asphalt plant.
|Planning Commissioners and Mason District residents learn all about asphalt production.|
Residents who live near the Vulcan property are campaigning against an asphalt plant, citing odor, noise, environmental, and health concerns. At a Planning Commission hearing in March, several neighbors urged the commissions to reject the application.
Julie Strandlie, the Mason district representative on the Planning Commission, scheduled the Virginia Paving tour so the commissioners could see firsthand how the plant operates and how it controls odors and pollution. Several people who live near Vulcan came along, too.
|Piles of sand and asphalt at Virginia Paving with apartment buildings in the background.|
There was definitely an odor of asphalt at the Virginia Paving plant, although it bothered some people on the tour more than others. It was also quite noisy, as there were many large trucks coming in and out during the hourlong tour.
Virginia Paving, located off S. Van Dorn Street between S. Pickett Street and Eisenhower Avenue, produces a “warm mix asphalt” which causes less pollution than “hot asphalt,” says Cody Sullivan, who manages Virginia Paving facilities in Occoquan and Stafford, as well as the one in Alexandria.
The plant isn’t operating at full capacity yet, Sullivan says. Its peak season is mid-May to early November. It’s currently producing about 2,200 tons of asphalt a day. During the peak period, it produces 4,000 to 6,000 tons.
Because there’s a limit on how long asphalt can be transported, the Alexandria plant produces asphalt for roads and parking lots no more than one and a-half hours away, or no farther than Arlington, Tysons, and Woodbridge. It mostly operates at night, because that’s when most VDOT projects are done.
|A water truck sprays the ground.|
Christine Vineski, Virginia Paving’s environmental manager, described some of the controls in place to minimize air and water pollution. There’s a tank under the parking lot to collect and filter stormwater before it goes into Backlick Run, and eventually into the Potomac River.
Water trucks spray the grounds periodically “to keep fugitive dust out of the air,” Vineski says. Dust is also vacuumed off the grounds. An additive called Eco-Zorb is injected into the asphalt to reduce odors. Emissions testing is done by a third party, and the results are submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments.
Virginia Paving is a stone’s through from the Cameron Station community. The softball field at Samuel Tucker Elementary School is separated from the plant by a concrete barrier and stream.
Several people who live at the end of Cameron Station closest to the plant, mostly on Brawner Place, who happened to be outdoors on April 14 said they had no problems with odors or noise from the asphalt plant.
|Samuel Tucker Elementary School and Cameron Station seen from the Virginia Paving site.|
One man said he had lived there for seven years and didn’t know the plant was there. Another resident said she didn’t notice any odors but was disturbed by noise from the train that runs close to her house.
Cameron Station was built after the asphalt plant was already there, however. If a new asphalt plant is built on the Vulcan property, it would have an impact on already-established neighborhoods.
|An air pollution monitoring station between Samuel Tucker Elementary School on the left and Cameron Station homes.|