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Enviro-Mich message from Jeff Gearhart <jeffg@ecocenter.org>


Jeff Gearhart,  Ecology Center, (734) 663-2400 ext. 117
Aretta Schills, Local Resident,  (734) 439-2573
Jerry Renning, Michigan Citizens Against Toxic Substances (MCATS),
(734) 439-3040

(18 December 2001 -- Dundee, Michigan)  Holcim (formerly Holnam,
Inc.) has applied for a permit to burn 79 different types of waste in
its Dundee, Michigan (20 minutes south of Ann Arbor) cement kiln.
Environmentalists and local residents today announced plans to oppose
the proposal and called on the plant to modernize their operations.
The Holcim cement kiln produces 1.1 million tons per year of cement
and is the 6th largest polluter in the state, emitting 2.6 million
pounds of pollutants annually.

The permit application, which was filed with the Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality on November 19th, contains a three page list
of 79 different materials which the plant proposes to burn.  While
none of the wastes are regulated as hazardous, a number of the
proposed waste materials contain toxic contaminants. For example,
auto fluff is contaminated with PVC, lead, and mercury;  pulp and
paper sludges contain dioxins.
When burned, chlorinated organics (e.g. PVC) are known to form deadly dioxins.

Environmentalists charge that the burning of toxic waste materials
will increase emissions of dioxins and other air toxics, like heavy
metals, including lead and mercury.  "Holcim is more interested in
increasing profits by burning toxic waste, than it is in truly
improving the plant's environmental performance," said Jeff Gearhart,
Campaign Director of the Ecology Center.

Holcim still uses the obsolete and energy-intensive wet process while
94% of European and Japanese plants have adopted the dry and semi-dry
cement processes. Dry processing not only saves 50+% on fuels but
additionally reduces emissions of toxins and greenhouse gases.
Instead of modernizing its process, Holcim is trying to cut costs by
burning toxic waste fuels.

  Environmentalists have called for Holcim to drop its toxic waste
plans and have called for the company to adopt a 3-point plan to
improve the plant; (1) Convert the plant to a dry kiln process --
reducing energy needs and emissions by more than 50%; (2) Implement
energy conservation by using its hot exhaust gases to dry raw
materials and generate electricity;  and  (3)  maintain the
regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) to reduce the bulk of its
permitted annual release of 7,200 tons of volatile organic compounds
that contribute to ground level ozone formation.

Furthermore, environmentalists  assert that Holcim is attempting to
use a regulatory loophole to avoid comprehensive evaluations.
Lawyers for Holcim have argued that most of the plant's operation
should be grandfathered from state review and that it may not be in
compliance with current state regulations.

"Šit is entirely possible that a source the size of the Kilns
[Holcim's plant] would have pre-existing emissions of some toxic air
contaminants that would not be able to meet the standards imposed on
new sources under the air toxics rules."  P6, Honigman, Miller
Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Letter to DEQ, October 15, 2001.

Environmentalists contend that the entire plant should be evaluated
to determine if it is in compliance with state and federal
environmental regulations.

The Ecology Center is a 31-year-old nonprofit environmental
organization which works for clean air, safe water, and healthy
communities in southeast Michigan.  MCATS is a ten-year-old
organization originally formed to fight a proposed hazardous waste
facility in Augusta Township, and now working to stop the dumping of
toxics into our environment.

For additional background on the Holcim proposal go to

Jeff Gearhart
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734)663-2400 x117
(734)663-2414 fx.


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