Citizen's Services Update

Stamford Pothole and Curb Repairs Slowed by Fracking Waste Ordinance


The Administration agrees with the environmental intent of the ordinance and its prohibition on using gas and oil waste products in Stamford. However, the unique purchasing requirement embedded in the ordinance is causing the City higher expense and delays in pothole, curb, and sidewalk repairs and does not appear to be advancing its intended purpose.

This is the first time the City’s Operations Department has been unable to use the local hot asphalt supplier. In response, the City has taken steps to minimize the impact of the asphalt constraint on pothole repair. The City is now procuring asphalt from a supplier in New York State, RCA Asphalt, which has agreed to the particular statement required by the current ordinance.  But, this has created a 70 percent decrease in efficiency of pothole, curb, and sidewalk repairs this spring.

In order to correct the situation and restore operational effectiveness, the Mayor submitted a proposed revision to the ordinance to the Board of Representatives on April 24th and requested the opportunity to brief the appropriate Board committee as soon as possible. The Board of Representatives has placed this item on their agenda. It is to be considered before the Public Safety & Health Committee on May 30th. Under normal Board of Representatives’ procedure, an ordinance change would not be approved by the Board of Representatives until July 1st at the earliest. Without a change in the ordinance, it’s not likely that pothole, curb, and sidewalk repair work will be able to return to a normal schedule in the near-term.

The City will continue to obtain hot asphalt from New York until the ordinance is changed. However, this has created major logistical challenges that significantly limit the City’s ability to perform pothole, curb, and sidewalk repair.  Under normal circumstances, the City uses up to 22 tons a day of local hot asphalt for pothole, curb, and sidewalk repairs during the spring. Due to the travel time to New York, and requirements to keep asphalt hot, the City is only able to utilize 6 tons a day from New York.  This approximately 70 percent reduction in available hot asphalt for road work is having a significant operational impact on pothole, curb, and sidewalk repairs this spring.

  • Delay of Pothole Repairs. With a local asphalt supplier supplying 22 tons per day, Stamford’s Highways Departments can repair roughly 150 potholes per day (average estimate, every pot hole differs in size and the amount of asphalt required for repair). Under limited supply of 6 tons a day as a result of the ordinance, the Highways Department can only repair roughly 40 potholes per day. The 70 percent reduction of the department’s efficiency is due to crews needing additional time to travel to New York to acquire asphalt, the weight restrictions for trucks traveling on highways, and the number of vehicles capable of keeping asphalt hot while transporting it back to Stamford from New York.

In most years the City uses 2 “hot-box” trucks (that keep asphalt hot during transport and until used for repairs) that each make 2 local trips a day to refill asphalt with 4 tons each per trip – resulting in 16 tons a day.  Because the asphalt is local, the City can also pick-up and use approximately 6 additional tons of hot asphalt before it gets too cold to use, bringing the total to 22 tons. When securing hot asphalt from New York, the City’s 2 hot-box vehicles can only make 1 trip per day and are limited to 3 tons per trip, for a total of 6 tons per day.

Due to the limited supply of asphalt, the Highways Department is now several weeks behind on pothole requests.

  • Limited curb and sidewalk repairs.  Except for special circumstances, pothole repairs will take priority over curb, apron, and sidewalk repairs. These repairs will be delayed several months, perhaps well into September. In addition, the quality of asphalt from New York does not appear to be as suitable for curb repair as locally obtained asphalt. It is not yet certain whether this will impact future curb repairs.

The City is in the process of purchasing additional equipment for approximately $50,000 to obtain another “hot-box” vehicle to obtain asphalt from New York. This will increase operational capacity to 9 tons a day, but will still result in significant delays in pothole and curb repair and increased costs.

The City can continue purchasing asphalt from New York asphalt supplier RCA, but there is an increased cost. The cost per ton at RCA is $115 per ton vs. O&G’s price of $89.66 per ton. This results in a total cost increase of approximately $15,000 per year — not including the increased transportation and labor costs.

The City believes it is obligated to maintain road conditions in Stamford, and to notify the public if this service is inhibited for any reason. This administration is actively seeking a solution and will notify the public as soon as the situation changes.

On behalf of the City, we thank residents for their patience and understanding.

Additional information is attached.


Additional Information

Fracking Waste Ordinance:

In May 2018, the Board of Representatives passed an ordinance prohibiting “Wastes Generated from Oil and Gas Drilling and Extraction Activities.” This ordinance banned the application of natural gas or oil waste products to roads and disposal of such waste into the City’s wastewater treatment plant or solid waste facility.  The ordinance also requires a new City purchasing requirement of bidders to provide a sworn statement that no natural gas or oil waste will be used as part of their product or service. Stamford’s purchasing regulations have many requirements that bidders must follow (such as non-discrimination, non-collusion with other bidders, background checks for employees working in schools, etc.). However, some potential bidders have indicated the affidavit required by the ordinance is unusual as it is overly broad and are reluctant to certify to conditions that cannot be known with complete certainty. 

The City’s Purchasing Department implemented this new affidavit requirement. As new bids are awarded and new contracts signed, the City has been requiring the signed sworn affidavit. Close to a hundred contracts have now been executed with the required affidavit. In most cases these contracts involve goods or services that do not directly utilize oil or gas products and it would be unexpected to have fracking waste somewhere in the supply chain for their products or services.

However, the City’s current local hot asphalt supplier, and other bidders, have declined to accept the new certification requirement, which leaves the City without a local hot asphalt supplier. On April 8th the City began sourcing hot asphalt from the RCA Asphalt plant in New York, which has signed the required affidavit.

On April 23rd, the Mayor informed the leadership of the Board of Representatives and the Co-Chairs of the Public Health and Safety Committee about this issue and its impact on the City, and requested the opportunity to brief the entire Public Safety & Health Committee (which was assigned the original ordinance) of the Board of Representatives as soon as possible. On April 24th the Mayor forwarded a revised draft ordinance for consideration by the Board.  On May 3rd, the Mayor wrote the full Board about this issue requesting a change in the ordinance.

Ordinance Status:

The Board of Representatives has placed the suggested revised ordinance on its agenda and scheduled a meeting before the Public Safety & Health Committee for May 30th. The Operations Committee has been assigned as a secondary committee. Under normal ordinance procedures, an ordinance change would not be approved by the Board of Representatives until July 1st at the earliest. Without a change in the ordinance, it is unlikely that pothole, curb, and sidewalk repair work can return to a normal schedule in the near-term.

Road Paving Impact:

Road paving has not been affected. This is because the paving contractor has been willing to sign the affidavit, even though they have indicated they will be sourcing asphalt from O&G Industries.

On April 18th the City road paving bids were due. All three bidders indicated that they would obtain asphalt from the local supplier, O&G Industries. Two of the three bidders declined to sign the affidavit. One bidder signed the sworn statement.   Because they signed the affidavit, the low bidder’s bid is valid and compliant with the ordinance. The contract is being awarded to them even though they will source asphalt from O&G Industries, which has declined to sign the exact statement required by the ordinance.

The certification required in the ordinance does not impact over 90% of the asphalt used in Stamford. O&G Industries provides the vast majority of asphalt to private paving contractors in Stamford, utility companies which do road repair after utility work, and the State of Connecticut that paves and patches state roads. These entities do not have direct purchasing contracts with the City and therefore are not required to provide the certified statement specified by the ordinance. 

There is no indication that there is any fracking waste content in locally supplied asphalt, and the vast majority of the asphalt used on Stamford’s roads will be supplied locally from O&G Industries. It is only the City that cannot directly use this asphalt source because of the purchasing requirement set by the ordinance.