South Seattle community members were united at a public hearing Tuesday night over concerns about plans to allow a cement company to burn whole tyres in its kiln on a trial basis. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is considering granting a permit to Lafarge North America Inc. that would temporarily sanction tire burning beginning this spring. Almost three dozen people showed up at the South Park hearing. Lafarge has few fans in the community, which - along with the government - blames it for stinking up the region’s air in recent years.
Lafarge representatives say an independent study absolved them of blame for the fumes that periodically have sent residents of South Park, White Center and Westwood Village indoors to escape the irritating, bleachlike odour.
Over the approximately yearlong trial period outlined in the permit, Lafarge would sample the air for a variety of chemicals, some measured continually, others periodically, while burning the scrapped tyres. Lafarge and Clean Air Agency officials say they’re hopeful that tyre burning will lead to better air quality. Tests elsewhere have shown lower levels of pollutants such as nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide, but emissions of carbon monoxide, lead and other chemicals could increase.
Lafarge already has permission for burning shredded tires but says that whole tires are cheaper and easier to get. Their kiln would need a US$3.5m upgrade for the new fuel source.