"We have already seen a dramatic increase in potholes and street disrepair because of the harsh winter. This increase means greater use of cold mix patching material. Using conventional cold mix would mean dumping thousands more gallons of diesel fuel into the environment. But not that we have switched to GreenPatch, we are using patching material that's completely safe to the environment," Young said.
The diesel fuel in conventional cold mix runs off into Westchester's thousands of streams, brooks, rivers, ponds, lakes and other waterways, and eventually into the Sound, and leaches into the environment, causing irreversible harm to human life, domestic pets, wildlife, marine life and plant life. Diesel also finds its way into the air as deadly vapors.
Medical experts say that diesel fuel and petroleum derivatives have long-term effects on human health, with diesel vapors, in particular, a major facilitator of asthma, heart disease and other chronic respiratory and pulmonary disorders.
"We are effectively stopping thousands of gallons of diesel fuel from contaminating the environment and air we breathe," Young said.
"This is an opportunity for DPW to do more than just talk green, it's a chance to do something concrete, in this case eliminating harmful toxins. It is a dramatic step toward preserving marine life and making the air safer for our children and all residents," said Commissioner Horton. "It is also a better and longer-lasting patch."
Diesel and other petroleum derivatives, such as kerosene and naphthalene, are added to conventional cold mix asphalt to keep the patching material easy to work with. Once applied to a pothole or other damaged road surface, cold mix hardens when the diesel additive either runs off into the environment or evaporates into the atmosphere.
Collectively, municipalities throughout Westchester and the County themselves use hundreds of thousands of tons of conventional cold mix asphalt annually for repairs and potholes. Each ton of conventional cold mix contains five gallons of diesel fuel, which may not sound like much on the surface. But consider this: If just 20,000 tons were used (at five gallons per ton), that would translate into a whopping 100,000 gallons of diesel being dumped into the environment--tantamount to emptying 16 diesel fuel tanker trucks into Westchester streets, which would be an environmental disaster of epic proportion that would take months, maybe years, to abate.
Besides its environmental benefits, GreenPatch has a major energy saving benefit in that it eliminates the use of diesel.
Several other government agencies and private companies in New York State, some of which include the New York City departments of transportation, environmental protection and parks and recreation, and municipalities on Long Island, have made the switch from conventional cold mix to the environmentally friendly GreenPatch.
This is groundbreaking in the cold mix asphalt industry because other than some cold mix products partially made with recycled materials, there has never been a cold mix patching material free of diesel and other harmful petroleum derivatives.
"The industry has been under intense pressure to reduce volatile organic compounds in cold mix. GreenPatch meets this challenge in a dramatic and unprecedented way by eliminating diesel fuel and petroleum additives, and replacing them with renewable, eco-friendly solvents," said Glenn Shapiro, who heads business development and marketing at RCA.
GreenPatch's eco-friendly and energy savings benefits have made it the first ever "green" product endorsed by the National Green Energy Council, a highly regarded organization based in Washington, D.C., whose president, Ralph Avallone, said, "GreenPatch has the revolutionary ability to 'green' the road-paving industry."
GreenPatch was unveiled a few months ago after 18 months of research and development in the laboratory and six months of testing in the street. On the heels of the City of Mount Vernon testing and, eventually, switching to the eco-friendly asphalt patching material, Westchester has become the first suburban county in the state to go green in pothole fill as well, with the Department of Road Maintenance recently switching to the eco-friendly alternative. In addition, several towns, villages and cities have followed Mount Vernon's lead, including Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, Eastchester and Larchmont. All Westchester municipalities have the ability to purchase GreenPatch at the same bulk rate cost as the County.