Essroc Cement Corp. officials assured the Nazareth Area Citizens Advisory Committee on Wednesday that they plan to address recent complaints about excessive dust coming from the company’s plants along Route 248 – reports the New Jersey Express Times. Nazareth Borough Council President Daniel Chiavaroli said residents have been complaining about the dirt. "This year’s dust seems to be worse than last year’s dust," Chiavaroli said.
An increase in truck traffic is at least partly to blame, plant manager Fabio Rizzi said. Since the end of August, the number of trips between Essroc’s three plants has gone up about 30 percent to 320 trips per day, Rizzi said. That’s when the company stopped mining the quarry at Plant I, where most of its production occurs. Essroc and Eastern Industries Inc. of Upper Nazareth Township have depleted the quarry. Essroc now must transport all of its limestone from its quarries at the west end of the borough to Plant I at the east end.
Rizzi said when company officials meet today with the trucking company that hauls the materials, they will ask the hauler to follow rules that say it must use tarps to mitigate fugitive dust. "I will deliver the message that we’re very concerned," Rizzi said. The company also plans to ask Martin’s Power Sweeping to clean Route 248 three times each day instead of twice.
Truck traffic on Route 248 will drop next year when Essroc begins using the 1.7-mile covered conveyor belt it started building in 2003. Technical difficulties running the belt to the Plant II quarry have delayed completion of the project, Rizzi said. In March 2005, Essroc will also replace a precipitator on the Plant I kiln with a modern baghouse dust-collector system , Constant said. The improvement is part of a modernisation project the state DEP approved in 2002. The company also must shut down the kilns at Plant III, the old Lone Star plant, by the end of next year.
Essroc plans to upgrade Plant I to make up for the lost capacity but has scaled down the scope of the project that was approved in February 2003. The company has nixed plans to raise the height of the kiln stack and preheater tower from about 300 feet to nearly 500 feet, Rizzi said. The original upgrades would have increased production by 50 per cent, but the company now plans to invest less than half of the $100 million it estimated last year. Instead, Essroc Italcementi Group decided to invest in upgrades at its Martinsburg, WVa, plant to satisfy increased demand in the Northeast, Rizzi said. Increased construction costs, available raw material and equipment design were factors in the decision, a company statement says.
In addition to environmental upgrades, improvements at the Nazareth plant will include increasing the speed of the kiln, improving the preheater technology and upgrading the raw mill grinding and blending technology, the statement says. Work is expected to begin next summer, Rizzi said. The DEP is reviewing the company’s application for revised work permits.