Holcim rejects acid rain fears

Holcim rejects acid rain fears
Published: 14 December 2006

No acid rain will be caused by emissions from a $200m cement plant near Weston, New Zealand the company planning to build it said yesterday. 
 
Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd has rejected claims made by the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society at a public meeting in Weston on Tuesday night. 
 
The group, which opposes the cement plant, said Oamaru’s historic buildings could dissolve in acid rain, agriculture and horticulture in the valley would be affected, and environmental and health problems could result within a 10km radius of the plant. 
 
Holcim’s cement plant project manager, Paul Commons, said yesterday he was disappointed with the "misinformation" given at the meeting, and that he was not allowed to respond fully. 
 
"We have nothing to hide at all. To sit there and listen to all these mistruths for an hour without any chance to refute them was difficult," he said. 
 
Even when he was directly questioned by some of the 130 people at the meeting, his replies were cut short by meeting organisers. 
 
Society spokesman Rodney Jones said there would be plenty of opportunities for the society and Holcim to discuss issues. 
 
"We are getting ready to butt heads for a very long time," he said at the meeting.
 
While Mr Commons was obviously not happy yesterday, he was diplomatic. 
 
"It wasn’t our meeting of course - we respect that. But disappointing in that regard," he said. 
 
Acid rain, he said, was "not an issue". 
 
Issues regarding emissions from the plant would be "exhaustively covered" in the emissions to air report being prepared by consultants as part of resource consent applications Holcim hoped to file with the Otago Regional and Waitaki District Councils in February. 
 
That report, which would be peer reviewed internationally, was a "substantial piece of work" and would be based on Holcim’s internal standards along with Otago Regional Council, national and international environmental standards.
 
"It will be open, very rigorous and, if we are not confident about any aspects of that report, we won’t apply [for resource consents]," he said. 
 
The report would be made freely available before consent applications were filed. 
 
"I expect people will be pleasantly surprised," he said of the report’s results.