Ash Grove Cement Co. in Louisville will be allowed to burn scrap tyres in its kilns for 60 days under a variance approved by the director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Two environmental groups, the Nebraska chapter of the Sierra Club and Eastern Nebraskans Against Chemical Trespass, have opposed the trial burn, saying it would pose a significant health risk to Louisville and outlying communities. Emissions from scrap tires, they say, contain lead, mercury and other pollutants.
Ash Grove wants to burn 1 million scrap tyres annually in its cement kilns. A trial burn would give state and plant officials emissions and burn data that would be used for a state permit if Ash Grove applies for one. The state generates about 1.8 million scrap tyres annually. The variance allows Ash Grove to operate outside of what the DEQ approved in the plant’s air quality permit. Nebraska does not yet allow the burning of scrap tyres in cement kilns.
During the trial, Ash Grove will be allowed to burn as fuel a mixture of 20 percent scrap tyres and 80 per cent coal. No date has been set for the start of the trial burn, but likely in 2005. For the company, approval of the test burn is good news, said Lance Latham, the Ash Grove spokesman, who is based in Overland Park, Kan. State inspectors would have access to the plant throughout the trial burn and that emissions and operations will be closely monitored.
Earlier this year, DEQ officials held two informational meetings in Louisville. Some opponents of the trial burn criticized the agency as ignoring or not responding to their questions and providing misleading or outdated information to the public. DEQ officials have said that 23 states have successfully permitted scrap tyre burning in cement kilns. Opponents dispute that number, saying DEQ had only emission data from a limited number of states (edited report from JournalStar).