Union Bridge reduces emissions

Union Bridge reduces emissions
Published: 22 August 2005

Test results on emissions from Lehigh Cement Co. in Union Bridge show a reduction in toxic chemical emissions that are common to cement manufacturing. Toxic emissions dropped from more than 400,000 pounds a year to less than 300 pounds, the results show.  Lehigh plant manager Peter Lukas said he was ecstatic about the test results because they confirm that the $300m technology added to the plant in the past few years is working. 

Lehigh recently proposed burning more than 100 tons a day of dried, sanitized sewage from Baltimore’s wastewater facilities to make cement. The company wants to use the pelletized sludge - known as a biosolid - as an alternative or supplement to the coal it burns in its kilns.  The Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council has recommended granting zoning approval to build silos to store the biosolids. County commissioners must approve the change, and a public hearing has to be held before the plant can proceed. 

The information on emissions, which has been reported to the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency, places Lehigh 84th in the state for total pounds of chemicals released. It had been 12th, according to an environmental score card compiled by a citizens’ watchdog group. 

Test results confirmed. The levels of hydrochloric acid were so low after the initial test in May that Lehigh officials ordered a second test that confirmed emissions were near zero. Levels of chromium and sulfuric acid were only slightly higher than the hydrochloric acid. Lead emissions were at 209 pounds annually, a 350-pound decrease from data collected in 2002 and significantly less than the 1,400 pounds of lead allowed in Lehigh’s emissions permit from the state. 

"Their numbers look fine with a significant difference between the old figures and new ones," said James E. Slater, Carroll’s environmental compliance officer. "The difference is between the old and new plant."  Company officials credit the multimillion dollar improvements made since 2000. In particular, the new kiln and preheater tower that dominate the skyline for miles in western Carroll County have played a large role in reducing emissions, they said. 
 groups as well as federal facilities.