As the deadline for public comment approaches, leading advocacy groups have formed specific concerns related to the Lafarge Ravena cement plant’s Title V operating permit (the name and requirement come from Title V of the Clean Air Act) renewal application, including concerns about a potential “loophole” that could allegedly result in no regulations of mercury at all.
According to Susan Falzon of Friends of Hudson, an advocacy group that has enlisted the help of lawyers and other experts to review the 130-page proposed permit document, if Lafarge were to drop its plan for modernization of the plant (contingent on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement not yet up for public comment), no regulations for mercury emissions would be on the books.
“If Lafarge abandons the (modernisation) project,” Falzon said, “there’s no conditions on mercury.”
“I don’t believe that is the case,” said John Reagan, Environmental Manager for Lafarge’s Northeast region. He said that if there truly is a loophole, “the EPA will be adopting new regulations that regulate mercury emissions from cement plants. If that’s true, the new regulations will require us to meet a mercury emission limit ... one way or the other mercury emissions are going to be reduced from the plant.”
Reagan said Lafarge has no intention of abandoning its plan to modernise the plant. “The company is committed to moving forward with it,” he said.
The application, up for public comment until Jan. 11, will renew the plant’s last Title V permit, which expired in 2006. The new proposed permit includes a cap on yearly mercury emissions of 176 pounds per year, and if approved, will be in place for five years.