State probing cement dust incident

State probing cement dust incident
Published: 28 September 2006

The state Department of Environmental Protection is looking into a weekend equipment malfunction at the Lehigh Cement Co. plant in Maidencreek Township, a spokeswoman said.

As workers tried to fix a problem at the plant Sunday, limestone dust was released into the air. It drifted into a neighborhood, covering cars, lawns, homes and trees.

About 10 homes were affected along Buena Vista Road.

DEP spokeswoman Sandra J. Roderick said Tuesday that the department is aware of the situation. She could not say whether the company violated any regulations.

Such investigations usually take two or three weeks, she said.

“If we do anything, the first step is a notice of violation,” Roderick said. “We don’t have anything concrete.”

The DEP does not list limestone dust as a health hazard.

Richard L. McGarvey, spokesman for the state Department of Health, said exposure to dust of any kind could make it hard for some people to breathe. He did not have any specific information about possible health effects of crushed limestone.

Lehigh Cement officials have said that they plan to meet with neighborhood residents and that the company would consider reimbursing them for damaged property.