Lafarge updates planning board on modernization project

(RAVENA) — The Lafarge modernization plan for the old cement plant on Route 9W in Ravena is drawing closer to becoming a reality.

At the recent Town of Coeymans planning board meeting, four Lafarge representatives including Atlanta-based Senior Project Manager John Light, Engineering Manager Marc Desimon, Environmental Manager John Reagan and Plant Manager Martin Turecky displayed an artist’s rendering of the proposed plant and answered questions from the board.

Reagan said that while the company was not quite ready to apply for building permits and other documents, they thought it would be helpful to update the board because the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) permitting process is winding down.

“We have been working on this for three years,” Reagan said. “We have held informational sessions, public meetings, undergone a public comment period and taken part in the DEC legislative Hhearing.”

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is expected to submit comments, if any, to the DEC within the next few weeks and DEC will then issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

Reagan said Lafarge addressed over two dozen environmental factors in their DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) including sensitivity to noise, air quality, efficiency and public health.

Those documents are on view at the RCS Community Library, at the Coeymans Town Hall and online at

The planning board was supportive and enthusiastic about the project, although they did suggest several areas of concern.

Chief among them was the physical appearance of the new plant.

“We want to know about the landscaping,” said board member Joe Kapusta.

The issue of how to improve the visual appearance of the cement conveyor which crosses Route 9W on its way from the quarry to the plant also came under discussion.

“We want an up-to-date, state-of-the art plant,” Board member Buddy Irwin said, “but we also want attention paid to the appearance of the Route 9W corridor.”

Reagan assured the board that Lafarge was working on those details and the final design would include them.

“We will be hiring contractors for that portion of the modernization,” Reagan said.

Callanan Industries, a leading supplier of paving materials and construction services located on the site adjoining just west of Lafarge, will be moving out during the construction phase of the new Lafarge plant.

It is not clear if they will reoccupy the premises once the modernization is completed sometime in 2014.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Foronda pointed out, “They use stone you don’t want and you use stone they don’t want.”

Regan said the new equipment will make it possible for Lafarge to use some material it had formerly been unable to utilize.

The new plant’s production increase will be significant, rising from roughly 1.7 million tons to 2.8 million tons each year.

Coal will remain the primary fuel and the new plant will be designed to have one outage a year.

Once the DEC issues the FEIS, preconstruction could begin as early as this fall with grading and drainage.

While the company will still need a landfill, Reagan said it should handle 40 percent less waste.

He also said there will be less use of water from the Hudson and the new filtering process will protect fish and fish eggs.

“It sounds like you are headed in the right direction,” said Kapusta.

Irwin added, “It will benefit the entire community.”

Reagan said the modernization project will create roughly 800 construction jobs and once completed the new plant will employ the roughly the same number of workers as now, 180.

During construction the two old kilns will continue operating and will not shut down until the new one is up and running.

The company is going from two 600-foot long, 20-foot diameter kilns to one 200-foot kiln with a 15-foot diameter.

The job to shut down the old kilns, build the new one, start it up and then close down and dismantle the old ones will take at least two years.

The $300 million project should be operating by 2014.

Members of the planning board unanimously called the Lafarge modernization a tremendous opportunity and each expressed the same sentiment.

“I can’t wait to see it.”

Councilman Rick Touchette, who dropped in on the planning board meeting, said, “I think it’s a great project. They are replacing fifty-year-old technology with new, green, energy-efficient equipment. I and the rest of the town board have long expressed support for this.”

By Hilary Hawke

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