After five years of clearing the legal terrain to building its plant in St Genevieve County, Holcim received the required air pollution permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Spokeswoman Nancy Tully welcomed the event, saying : “We’re very excited. We are moving forward at this moment to select a contractor and begin construction.”
However, environmental groups have filed two lawsuits and more litigation has not been excluded over the granted air permit. They are concerned about the amount of nitrogen oxide emissions, a key smog-forming component, allowed in the permit. This could make it difficult for St Louis and surroundings to meet tougher new federal rules for ozone.
Environmental groups such as the Missouri Coalition for the Environment also object to the NOx reducing selective non-catalytic reduction technology allowed in the permit, stating it would only remove 20-30 per cent of NOx in the air. They favour a method called selective catalytic reduction, which would remove 80-90 per cent of NOx, albeit at a higher cost. However, Kyra Moore, permit section chief for the Missouri air pollution control programme said this solution was unfeasible and that “Holcim could not get a vendor to provide cost data or offer to sell them the equipment.” Meanwhile, Holcim said it hopes to resolve these issues before starting construction, which could be as early as this summer.