Modernisation of Thomaston plant complete

Modernisation of Thomaston plant complete
Published: 26 August 2004

Dragon Cement and Concrete announced today it has completed a $50 million modernisation of its cement plant in Thomaston, USA, the first major expansion of New England’s only cement plant since 1971. The modernization included a US$10m dollar upgrade of Dragon’s distribution system including the acquisition of new railcars and construction of new storage capacity.

Dragon President Joseph Koch said the modernisation changes the plant to a more environmentally efficient process while increasing fuel economy and production capabilities. The expansion also allows Dragon to maintain or increase employment levels at the plant for the next 20 to 30 years.

"Rebuilding the plant is the beginning of a new era for Dragon," said Koch. "This investment in state-of-the-art technology and equipment will not only provide continued employment at the plant but also increase our exports from Maine, enabling us to continue to grow at a steady pace," said Koch.

With the revamp, the Dragon plant can produce over 700,000t of cement on the same amount of fuel currently used to produce 500,000t. "This increased efficiency results in a positive environmental benefit because while our production increases, our air emissions will not," said Dragon’s Environmental Manager, Ann Thayer.

"We also made substantial upgrades to dust collection equipment and incorporated low NOx technologies to minimize our emissions." Dragon Products is one of Maine’s leaders in recycling industrial materials to replace virgin feedstocks and has received numerous state environmental and safety awards over the years, including a Governor’s Award for its dust reduction program in 1998 and for waste recycling in 2002. In addition, Dragon has invested millions of dollars over the past 10 years into environmental equipment and programs. In 1996, the company made a $1 million investment to recycle cement kiln dust back into the process through a very successful system known as the "dust scoops". As a result, new material added to the pile has actually been reduced by 98 percent from pre-dust scoop days.

Prior to the installation of the dust scoops the material was treated with water and stockpiled. "The success of the dust scoops solved a major solid waste problem for the company and allowed the focus to shift to re-use opportunities for the material," Thayer said. The company does not burn hazardous materials at the facility, nor does it accept any from outside sources, as misreported recently. Dragon’s new plant was brought on-line in June and is being "debugged", as is the case with all new manufacturing facilities of this complexity.

The company employs more than 225 full-time employees statewide. The cement is supplied to most ready-mix companies in the state, and others throughout New England by barge through Coastal Cement terminals in Newington, N.H. and Boston.

In 1995, Dragon expanded into the southern New England market with the addition of a multi-model marine and rail terminal and shipping operation. The increased production from the plant will be sent out by rail and barge thus reducing emissions from transportation of the product to market. "Dragon’s commitment to alternative forms of transportation takes over 10,000 truck trips off the road per year," said Thayer.