Weird, grey dust

Weird, grey dust
Published: 02 August 2004

A group of Thomaston and Rockland residents, as well as others from surrounding communities, are questioning Dragon Products Company’s environmental practices, especially its treatment of dust.

The neighbours for a Safe Dragon, a newly formed group of concerned citizens note that: "Dragon Cement seems to have fallen through the regulatory cracks altogether," said the group’s spokesman, Greg Marley. "This is a 15-acre...waste pile that hasn’t had a legal operating permit for 12 years."

Dragon Cement is a subsidiary of Dragon Products Company, itself a subsidiary of CND-USA, owned by the Spanish companies Cementos Portland and Cementos Lemons. Dragon operates the only cement manufacturing company in New England, producing cement, agricultural limestone and masonry materials.

The group said the cement factory’s pile of cement kiln dust is sitting uncovered in an old quarry bed, contrary to recommendations of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

But according to Ann Thayer, environmental manager at Dragon Products, the cement-manufacturing process is subject to "intense regulatory scrutiny by both federal and state regulatory authorities." She said Dragon is frequently inspected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA.

"Dragon works closely with our regulatory authorities to maintain a positive compliance record," said the company’s president, Joe Koch, in response to the concerns raised by the Neighbours. Dragon employs environmental experts to lead the effort to monitor all aspects of  Dragon’s operation and integrate environmental compliance into the operations of the plant, he said.

In 1996, the company spent US$9m on a scrubber to eliminate the dust by converting it back to raw material. That solution, however, carried too many technical obstacles to make it a completely viable solution. Since then, Dragon invested another US$1m to recycle the dust back into the process
through dust scoops.