Florida Crushed Stone has announced plans for a $150m expansion that would more than double the amount of cement produced at its Brooksville operation. If approved by county, state and federal agencies, the new plant would produce 1.8Mta of cement, nearly one-quarter of all the cement consumed in Florida every year, according to company officials.
The expansion would also drastically increase the environmental emissions from the plant. When in operation, the new facility could produce thousands of tons of air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide every year. Florida Crushed Stone would need air permits to address those emissions. In 2000, under an agreement with Hernando County, Florida Crushed Stone pledged to install four air quality monitoring devices at three locations within a mile around its cement plant off Cobb Road. The monitors were to collect information on large air particles emitted from the coal-burning plant. Company and county officials later agreed to include those stipulations as part of the company’s state air permit.
Jim Pennington, a permitting administrator with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the company had pledged to use new methods and technologies that minimized the impact of pollutants coming from the expansion. Although the agency had only recently received an air permit application, Pennington said it "looked good at first glance."
Florida Crushed Stone is a subsidiary of Rinker Materials Corp. in West Palm Beach. It planned a similar expansion several years ago and obtained permits to proceed with construction. But it tabled the proposal because of the bad "economic conditions" for cement, according to Charles Allen, director of operations for Rinker’s Cement Division. But the recent surge in the demand for cement, spurred in part by economic growth in China, led the company to revive the idea of expanding in Brooksville, Allen said.