Opponents say pollution from a cement plant in Ravena USA, that already affect local residents may get worse if Lafarge Cement is allowed to burn tires there for fuel. Lafarge filed an application with the Department of Environmental Conservation for tyre-burning permits in November, 2003 according to DEC spokesperson Maureen Wren. The company also seeks a Beneficial Use Determination permit.
Lafarge proposes to burn whole, not shredded tires. Whole tires can produce more emissions than shredded ones, but shredding is too costly, according to information submitted to DEC by the company which claims emissions would remain below currently permitted levels.
Lafarge bought the plant from Blue Circle in 2001. The plant is in southern Albany County near the Greene County line across the Hudson River from northern Columbia and Rensselaer counties. Members of the Rensselaer County Legislature are seeking an expanded review of the application.
County Legislators Ed Swartz and Roy Wright said a close review by the DEC is needed to determine the potential impacts of the cement plant’s proposal on areas within the county. At its March 8 meeting, the Legislature approved a resolution asking that DEC "consider all potential health and safety factors" when reviewing the project.
Lafarge argues that burning tyres will decrease dependency on coal, cutting production costs while decreasing emissions. According to information on the Lafarge application, burning tires in cement kilns is a widely accepted practice that has been taking place in North America for 25 years, with 40 per cent of cement plants across the country currently using tyre-derived fuel. The company hopes to replace 20 per cent of its coal usage with tyre-derived fuel. The move would also address the million-strong stockpiles of old tires in the state, according to Lafarge.