Essroc cement plant vows to be ‘good neighbor’ after dust issues

Officials with Essroc cement plant in Martinsburg, West Virgina, said Monday that the cement plant endeavors to be a “good neighbor”,  Herald Mail Media reports.

The company said in a statement it acted swiftly to address dust-related issues at the site and will implement dust-control improvements over the next 60 days as part of ongoing environmental efforts, and already has made investments to repair equipment.

Essroc recently agreed to pay a $38,400 penalty for air-pollution violations, which triggered several complaints last year from nearby residents.

Essroc will be required to perform weekly instead of monthly “visible emission observations” at its South Queen Street plant as part of efforts to prevent future violations, according to a consent order signed by plant Director Heinz Knopfel and the West Virginia Division of Air Quality director William Durham.

Division of Air Quality officials conducted an inspection of visible emissions at the cement plant between Oct. 21 and Nov. 2 in response to citizen complaints, the order said.

The inspection revealed that dust was coming from near the top of a silo that houses clinker. Nodules of clinker typically are ground to a fine powder and used as a binding agent in cement products.

The investigation also found that seals on the access doors to enter the silo were not sealing properly, allowing dust to escape.

Plans to minimize or eliminate dust-emission sources at the plant are expected to “significantly reduce emissions, as well as help to improve visibility for our workers in the indoor clinker-handling area,” Essroc officials said Monday.

The improvements include the installation of steel doors at the clinker silo to prevent dust venting; flexible door curtains to prevent dust transfer to the outdoors from indoor truck unloading; improved air-cleaning capability for the dust collectors to enhance proper cleaning and overall efficiency; and enhanced fugitive dust-monitoring observations to ensure compliance.

The company also said Monday that the facility reached a three-year safety milestone, having passed 1 million man-work hours without a time-loss accident.

“This is significant because our safety efforts start from within the plant and extend outward to include our independent contractors in the greater Martinsburg community,” the company said. “We anticipate a similar success in working with the (state) to resolve our fugitive dust-emission sources.”

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