Holcim received a permit Tuesday to build the nation’s largest cement
plant on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The air pollution permit was the last major regulatory hurdle Holcim
faced in its five-year effort to build the controversial plant in Ste.
Genevieve County, 40 miles south of St. Louis.
Construction could begin as early as next summer, spokeswoman Nancy
Tully said. "We are moving forward at this moment to select a contractor
and begin construction," However, two lawsuits have been filed by
environmental groups, and more litigation is likely over the new permit.
Tully said the company hopes to resolve the suits before proceeding.
Ted Heisel, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the
Environment, said the permit should have been much more stringent. "I
think it’s a short-sighted decision in light of the efforts we’ve had to
make to clean up the air over the past two decades in the St. Louis
region," Heisel said. "From the political end, it’s trading some
immediate construction jobs for the long-term air quality, and to some
extent, the long-term economic health of the region."
The air permit issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources
requires Holcim to restrict its emission of nitrogen oxides, especially
in the summer. Under the permit, Holcim can use a technology
called "selective non-catalytic reduction" to reduce nitrogen oxide
emissions. The department considered the technology experimental, so
Holcim has up to seven years to test its effectiveness.
Under the permit, Holcim will use the technology in the summer, when air
quality tends to be the worst. It can modify the pollution control
later, but the company still must meet certain emission limits.
The permit requires the company to cut its nitrogen oxide emissions in
the summer almost in half of what the normal amount would be. Overall,
Holcim may emit up to 6035t of nitrogen oxides during its first year,
and 5194t after all pollution controls are fully in effect.
The permit may be appealed to the Missouri Clean Air Board. Heisel said
he was unsure what steps environmentalists would take next (original
report: St Louis Post Despatch)