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E-M:/ Holcim Cement To Burn Wastes But Can We Trust Them

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

The press release from Friends of Hudson(NY) below discusses Holcim's 
(aka St. Lawrence Cement - SLC) failed promises at its showcase plant 
in Texas.   In Michigan, the question remains, how can we trust a 
company with this track record to burn large quantities of post 
industrial waste(some of which is toxic) at its cement kiln in 
Dundee, Michigan.  Stayed tuned, the Michigan DEQ is likely to 
propose to allow Holcim to do exactly this next month.

Jeff Gearhart


	Texas plant, once showcased by St. Lawrence
	Cement for local Forum, now faces heavy fines

	* Texas regulators propose $223,125 penalty to be voted on Wednesday

	*SLC flew local "Community Forum" to visit plant in Summer 2000

	* Agency finds 15 major violations, including emissions of five
	key pollutants above permitted levels, monitoring violations, et al.

	* As in Columbia County, parent company promised in 1997 that new
	echnology would result in cleaner air despite plant expansion

	* Copy of the draft order available upon request: (518) 822-0334

HUDSON, NY -- A plant showcased two summers ago by St. Lawrence 
Cement for the benefit of a local, company-sponsored Community Forum 
is now to be fined over $220,000 next week by Texas regulators for 15 
different violations.

The draft order includes a proposed $223,125 fine, and lists some 15 
major violations, including  violations for emissions of sulfur 
dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile 
organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM) above permitted 

These five regulated pollutants are the same key pollutants which 
have been at the center of debate about the SLC Greenport proposal.

Also among the many violations cited by TNRCC: that the Midlothian 
plant has not maintained pollution controls; reported "erroneous" 
emissions numbers for 9 years; improperly operated Continuous 
Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMs); exceeded clinker production 
limits; failed opacity tests; failed to file required reports; failed 
to meet performance specifications; failed to pay required regulatory 
fees; and failed to meet Prevention of Significant Deterioration 
(PSD) standards which protect regional air quality.

	Relevant to Columbia County controversy

St. Lawrence Cement flew members of "The Forum," as well as local 
reporters, to the Holcim-owned Midlothian plant in August 2000, 
touting it as a model for their proposed coal-fired facility for 
Greenport and Hudson, NY.

Michigan-based Holcim US is an American subsidiary of Swiss-based 
Holcim (formerly Holdberbank), which also created and controls the 
Canadian-based St. Lawrence Cement.

"SLC linked this plant to their Greenport project when they paid to 
send members of our community to Midlothian," said Friends of Hudson 
executive director Sam Pratt.  "These draft penalties represent a 
near-total failure by this company to live up to their promises to 
Texans," "And those promises are nearly identical to the ones SLC has 
made to our community. Holcim made the same public relations claims 
in Texas that their subsidiary is now flogging here in the Hudson 
Valley. Now Texans are learning the hard way that this company can't 
be trusted to keep its word."                              

In January of 2002, The Dallas Morning News reported that regulators 
had begun investigating the Holcim plant for failure to meet a 1997 
pledge to reduce regional air pollution through technology 
improvements. In exchange for this investment and promise, the 
company was granted permits to double cement production at the 
facility. "We can double production, executives of an Ellis County 
cement plant told Texas regulators in 1997, and still cut our air 
pollution in half," the newspaper reported, but "Nearly two years 
after completing its expansion, the plant's smog-causing emissions 
have gone up instead of down."

With this news, Greenport project opponents noted that SLC had chosen 
this Texas plant as a showcase for their local intentions -- as well 
as noting the similarity of the pollution reduction claims made for 
both facilities. In mailings and  advertising campaigns, the company 
has claimed that they will make Hudson Valley air cleaner while 
increasing production by 3.5 times over their existing Catskill 

	Vote scheduled for next Wednesday

According to an agenda posted on the website of The Texas Natural 
Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC), a meeting is scheduled on 
the morning of August 21st to vote on the proposed penalties. Agenda 
item #11 is a vote on Docket No. 2001-0337-AIR-E, whether to assess 
"administrative penalties and requiring certain actions of Holcim 
(Texas) Limited Partnership in Ellis County" for air quality 
violations pursuant to Texas Health & Safety Code as well as 
violations of TNRCC rules.

This would not be the first substantial penalty paid by the 
Midlothian plant. In 1993, the Texas Air Control Board approved a 
$135,000 fine for Holcim (then Holnam) for emitting 50% more sulfur 
dioxide than allowed by its permit. At the time, the plant manager 
complained to the Dallas media that the fine "was within the top 1 
percent of all the fines that have ever been levied by the Air 
Control Board in this sort of matter."  The proposed new fine is even 

	SLC has appealed judges' call to investigate Holcim track record

In December 2001, two New York State administrative law judges 
instructed the Department of Environmental Conservation to 
investigate further into the track record of St. Lawrence Cement's 
parent company -- an order which SLC has appealed to DEC Commissioner 
Erin Crotty.

Now, the Midlothian plant appears likely to go to the front of a 
dossier of violations compiled by plant opponents and submitted to 
New York State's own regulators.

"While this vindicates our track record argument, we're concerned for 
the folks we know in Midlothian who have to live near this plant," 
added the group's vice president Peter Jung, who has communicated 
extensively with Midlothian residents. "If there is anyone left who 
trusts St. Lawrence's claims about cleaner air, this ought to be the 
last straw."

Friends of Hudson members Lynn Davis and Rudy Wurlitzer also traveled 
independently to Midlothian in 1999, returning with video of the 
facility as well as personal interviews with residents who reported 
high incidences of cancer near the plant as well as illnesses among 
farm animals. Friends of Hudson also brought former Texas air control 
officer Neil Carman to Hudson in 1999 to discuss his experience 
monitoring cement plants there.

	Friends of Hudson can provide contacts to citizens groups in 
Texas who have followed
	the Midlothian situation closely. Please call (518) 822-0334 
for more information.

	Friends of Hudson, a project of The Open Space Institute, 
Inc., is a 2900-member
	public interest group based in Hudson, NY. See also: 

	# # #

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


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