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

Enviro-Mich message from "William Tobler" <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>

And in Texas, no less.
It must have been REALLY bad.

William Tobler

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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 
> 	*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 
> 	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 
> levels.
> 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 
> facility.
> 	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 
> higher.
> 	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: 
> www.friendsofhudson.com
> 	# # #
> -- 
> _________________
> Jeff Gearhart
> Ecology Center
> 117 N. Division
> Ann Arbor, MI  48104
> (734)663-2400 x117
> (734)663-2414 fx.
> http://www.ecocenter.org
> http://www.cleancarcampaign.org
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