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Lafarge modernization plan moves forward

Nov, 22 2013




RAVENA — Lafarge North America has received the final approval on an amended settlement granting additional time to construct a new kiln while further reducing pollution at its Ravena cement plant.

Lafarge officials on Friday, Nov. 15, announced its extension agreement was finalized. The agreement was drafted in July with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation. It was released for public comments earlier this fall, and no changes were made to the company’s extended timeline to construct a new kiln at its Ravena cement pant.

The company has an additional 18 months to complete construction. In exchange for the extension, Lafarge agreed to reduce pollution emissions beyond its original agreement.

Lafarge must complete construction by June 30, 2016, with the agreement holding a detailed construction schedule and penalties for not meeting project milestones.

Craig Campbell, vice president of Environment and Public Affairs for Lafarge, said the finalized agreement is important, because it’s “another important step” toward modernization of the plant.

The existing Ravena plant, which the company said is in compliance with all current environmental standards, will be shut down after its new kiln is completed.

“Significant capital investments are being committed to the Ravena plant,” Mike Kralik, manager of Lafarge’s Ravena plant, said in a statement. “Lafarge is focused on transforming the Ravena plant into an efficient, competitive, state-of-the-art facility equipped with advanced efficiency features that will enable the plant to compete successfully and meet the economy’s need for high-quality cement.”

The new plant will have modern air pollution control technology to reduce specific air emissions and have a continuous monitoring systems “to meet, if not exceed, the strict new emission standards adopted by the EPA,” according to Lafarge.

The amended settlement includes annual allowable emissions for nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide at or below the original agreement. These pollutants contribute to smog and soot pollution, along with acid rain. Lafarge, in a separate agreement with the state, will limit mercury emissions to levels 25 percent lower than the plant’s current air pollution control permit.
continued — Lafarge also agreed to provide funding of $1.5 million toward projects to further reduce emissions at the plant and in surrounding communities.

The modernization project maintains more than 100 local jobs, Campbell said, along with Lafarge estimating an additional 800 temporary jobs added during construction.

“The benefit to the local economy is very significant,” Campbell said. “They can look at the plant and know what we are building is a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. We plan to be there for 50 years.”

Several high-profile projects in the state have drawn from the cement produced in Ravena, such as the new Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City and GlobalFoundries’ new plant in Malta.

“Even under challenging market conditions, the Lafarge Ravena plant is supplying more than one million tons of locally produced cement for construction projects of all sizes and in many locations throughout the region,” added Kralik.

Lafarge had approached state and federal officials about receiving an extension to its 2010 consent decree requiring the company to limit pollutant emissions at its Ravena plant.

The original deadline to meet imposed limits was Jan. 1, 2015, but the company claimed the cement industry was recovering slower than expected from the country’s recent recession. This led Lafarge to delay funding construction of its new kiln.

“Without this agreement we would not have the time or the economy to support such a large investment,” Campbell said.

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