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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Environment - "Cement plant sparks heated public meeting"

From the Louisville Courier-Journal, a story by James Bruggers that begins:

Sellersburg: An overflow crowd of more than 200 people packed a Sellersburg auditorium Wednesday for a contentious public meeting on the local cement plant's plan to burn hazardous liquid wastes.

"I don't want the facility to close down," John Croucher, who lives next to the plant in Speed, said. But too often, he said, he sees plumes of smoke at night and environmental regulators don't seem to care.

Richard Stock said air pollution was already an area problem, citing failing grades in recent American Lung Association reports: "Are we putting profitability ahead of the health of citizens?"

The meeting was held by Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which is weighing a new air permit for the Essroc Cement plant in Speed, and took issue with many residents' assertions.

IDEM official told residents that Clark County has good air quality that meets federal standards for smog, or ozone. They said the county only fails to meet federal standards for fine particles pollution because of problems with unreliable data collected in Louisville.

"The air quality is a lot better than what it used to be, and monitors show attainment for all standards," meeting officer Doug Wagner said at Ivy Tech State College South Central Auditorium.

A third shift worker at the plant, Frank Everage, drew strong applause from many in the room after he said most of what comes from the stack is steam and that the workers take environmental compliance seriously. The company's proposal, he said, would result in less pollution because the hazardous waste would replace some of the coal burned in the cement kilns, and "coal is the polluter - it really is."

Earlier this week, IDEM and Essroc officials said burning hazardous waste would not increase toxic lead emissions, as part of a draft air quality permit had suggested.

But they acknowledged it will allow the plant to emit somewhat more of other types of pollution associated with the burning of petroleum-based products such as paints and solvents.

Matt Stuckey, the air permits branch chief at one point threatened to have one man removed after he repeatedly interrupted the discussion from his seat. He also told the audience that IDEM officials believe the permit satisfies federal and state air requirements.

"This is not a vote," he said when asked if there was any way citizens could stop it.

Before the meeting, he said lead and other heavy metals are in the coal - not the liquid wastes that the company seeks to add to its fuel mix. That is why state officials actually expect fewer emissions of those metals with the new fuel mix.

There is much more to read in the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 18, 2016 09:33 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government