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Re: E-M:/ Judge overturns mercury ruling

Enviro-Mich message from "Alexander J. Sagady" <ajs@sagady.com>

Bill, the Canadian power plant, Nanticoke, doesn't have scrubbers.   They do 
have an electrostatic precipitator for particulate control and selective catalytic 
reduction (SCR) for nitrogen oxide control.   

SCR makes is more likely that elemental mercury in the flue gas is converted
from the elemental form to an oxidized form.   While the oxidized form of 
mercury is easier to collect in air pollution control equipment and thus be retained
in fly ash, oxidized mercury is more immediately toxic in biological systems and 
more likely to be deposited in the environment closer to an emission source.

The recent (last 3 years) installation of SCR in Michigan power plants thus makes mercury emissions 
in oxidized form a more serious environmental threat than what it previously was.   This is 
one of the reasons why I took the position that the Granholm Administration's plan
to allow utilities until 2015 to get final control of the mercury problem should not have
received the support of Michigan environmental groups because of the long delays before 

In the case of the Nanticoke plant, there is another factor at work that is probably a more 
important reason why this plant is achieving up to 60% control of mercury emissions from flue gas to its 
fly ash --- which it sends to Lafarge where the mercury is released.   The Nanticoke plant 
fly ash has unburned carbon at about 8-11% and this unburned carbon helps scavage mercury 
from the flue gas.   While there is an undoubtedly an energy penalty for this (and possible 
increased in carbon monoxide and volatile organic compound emissions), running plants in 
this manner has actually be suggested as a mercury control technique.

When Lafarge sought permission to use fly ash as a raw material at the Alpena cement 
plant in the 1990's, they indicated in materials that the mercury content of the Nanticoke 
fly ash was about 17 times lower than it is presently and they assumed unrealistic and 
unsupportable factors for retention of mercury in clinker and emission control system 

They thus allowed significantly more mercury contaminated fly ash to be introduced into 
their process than they previously told MDEQ about and they failed to properly characterize
their potential to emit for mercury.   These are clear and present violations of 
Michigan's Part 2 air pollution control rules for air use approval.   

Michigan DEQ never enforced against these air pollution permitting rule 
violations.  Instead, the Granholm Administration gave permission last year to 
for Lafarge to increase its production rate and thus increase the amount of 
mercury contaminated fly ash utilization and subsequent mercury emissions.  
The fly ash is about 5% of the raw materials into the plant but the present 
material is the cause of over 50% of the mercury input into the Lafarge 
cement kilns.  

Lafarge doesn't have to use Nanticoke fly ash to make cement.   However, 
by failing to enforce its rules, the Granholm Administration and Attorney 
General Mike Cox have allowed Lafarge to win its court case by gelding 
MDEQ's defenses.   Granholm/Cox have allowed Lafarge to place its
contract commitments to Nanticoke/Ontario Hydro at a higher level of 
priority and Michigan's need to control mercury emissions at this plant
at no/low priority.   Granholm/Cox have walked away from the Michigan 
Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) provisions of the NREPA Act
by failing to consider pollution, impairment and destruction of resources
in their administrative decisions and consideration of reasonable alternatives.

\You are right, Bill, is saying that removable of the mercury contaminated 
fly ash from the Lafarge process should have been considered......indeed, 
Granholm/Cox were REQUIRED to consider process alteration to order 
removal of such fly ash from the Lafarge kilns as a feasible and prudent 

MDEQ never conducted a site specific human health and environmental 
risk assessment of Lafarge's mercury emissions.   Stack tests show that 
Lafarge's mercury emissions are constituted by a 90+% proportion with mercury in 
the most dangerous, biologically available, oxidized form.   Area 
watercourse in the Alpena area are already listed as being impaired for 
mercury, as is the open waters of Lake Huron.   As a result, any increased
emissions from Lafarge from their production rate increase will 
exacerbate an already serious mercury public health/environmental problem.

MDEQ risk assessors have been relying on pre-existing EPA models about 
deposition of mercury, but a recent University of Michigan study about 
wet deposition of mercury from power plants shows that these models and 
EPA's national mercury control strategy allowing "mercury emission trading"
are wrong and seriously flawed.   

Instead of rising to this challenge, the Granholm Administration has
been trying to do Clinton-style "triangulation" between power companies 
and environmentalists when it comes to mercury control policy and, 
in the case of the Lafarge plant mercury, Granholm/Cox have failed miserably.

All in all, this is a pretty sorry situation...

Here is a more detailed presentation of all of these issues as to Lafarge:

Alex Sagady

PS....please note, however, that I'm still going to vote for Jennifer since DeVos would have gotten 
all of this even worse than even Engler would have.

At 08:43 AM 10/24/2006, William Freese wrote:
>See link below. The judge that was hearing the original suit of Lafarge VS. MDEQ has ruled in favor of Lafarge on mercury emissions. It lets them emit worse case scenario of 570 pounds of mercury per year. Do not know what MDEQ will do. What they should have done is stopped Lafarge from using Canadian fly ash. When Canadian power plants installed stack scrubbers it made the ash a process change from their original permit for usage.That change required a new permit. Over 50% of the mercury emissions are because of that fly ash. If Lafarge was a true Steward of the Environment as they claim in their advertising eliminating the ash and installing stack scrubbers are the only way to live up to that title. They are in the midst of a 75M plant improvement. Stack scrubbers are an environmental improvement and qualify as an environmental tax deduction. The DTE Monroe power plant and the Charlevoix St. Mary cement plant are installing stack scrubbers. What is stopping Lafarge from doing the same? They could become the good neighbor they say they are.
>Bill Freese, Director
>Huron Environmental Activist League

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy, 
Expert Witness Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and 
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf 

657 Spartan Ave,  East Lansing, MI  48823  
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