We have not kept track of the number of consent orders that the MDEQ has issued since 1988 to Lafarge but there have been many. Of all consent orders that the MDEQ has agreed to (15-05A) is the most pro-polluter consent order we have ever had the displeasure of reviewing.
This permit which will allow Lafarge to emit 567 pounds of mercury per year until 2010 and its overview were not written by someone who was hired to protect our health and environment. In 2002 and 2003 Lafarge reported emitting 58 and 64 pounds of mercury. They wanted to increase production and applied for a permit to do so. The permit would have set an emission limit of 390 pounds of mercury per year and required stack testing to see how much mercury they were emitting. Those stack tests showed that Lafarge had been emitting over 581 pounds per year. Over half of those emissions were attributed to the use of Canadian power plant fly ash. Sometime after 1992 that plant installed dry scrubbers and drastically changed the mercury content. Lafarge uses 450,000 tons of that ash per year.
Lafarge sued the MDEQ to have the mercury limit removed from the permit. Well, the MDEQ really stood up to Lafarge. The original 15-05 permit had a worse case scenario of 570 of mercury per year. The MDEQ really got tough and made them take off 3 pounds per year until 2010. Talk about hanging tough for the people. What is really bad about 15-05A is not what is in the consent order but what was left out. We plan on pointing this out at the public hearing on the 21st of September.
Bill Freese, Director
Huron Environmental Activist League