St Lawrence Cement’s seemingly never-ending controversial proposal to build a new cement plant in upstate New York took a remarkable twist on Wednesday at press time. At an Aug 18 press conference St. Lawrence Cement Spokesman Dan Odescalchi and SLC officials and consultants announced several dramatic changes to the original plant proposal.
In an attempt to address numerous and continuing criticisms of the plant’s height, the SLC spokesmen said the following alterations would be made to the proposal now before the state Department of Environmental Conservation. They are:
The replacement plant would be located behind the quarry walls on Route 9. The base elevation would be reduced by 72 feet, which would eliminate 72 feet of the proposed plant from the public view shed. The altered proposal calls for lowering the pre-heater tower, known as the stack, from a five-stage to a four-stage structure. This will cut back its height by 35 feet and would reduce the stack height by 43 feet. By lowering the base elevation 72 feet and reducing the stack height by 43 feet, the height of proposed plant is reduced by a combined 115 feet. The proposed alternations would now leave the stack height at about 290 feet, from the original proposed 406 feet. SLC has also relocated the proposed plant farther south in the quarry because the high ridgeline there would further block the buildings from sight.
David Loomes, general manager of the Greenport project, when asked if SLC had amended its proposal because of strenuous opposition, said, "We really want to deliver the best project we can. We certainly hear concerns, listen to the community and respond. Today, is a reflection of that."
Despite SLC’s intended alterations to its proposal, the cement plant’s chief opponent remains dissatisfied. "This plant is not going to built. The people of the Hudson Valley are not going to allow this plant to be built here," said Sam Pratt, executive director of Friends of Hudson, a citizens group. He pointed out that health experts have maintained that if SLC reduced the stack height, the pollution would be worse because it would be emitted closer to the ground and the impact on local people’s health would be more immediate.
About the cement plant: St. Lawrence Cement intends to build a new US$300m cement plant on a 1782-acre parcel on the Hudson-Greenport border in Columbia County, St. Lawrence Cement currently operates a plant in Catskill, Greene County. If the new plant is approved, it would replace most of the operations at the company’s Catskill plant.