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Permit clears way for Holcim to begin construction

JEFFERSON CITY – An air pollution permit was issued to Holcim, Inc., Tuesday afternoon by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that clears the way for the international corporation to begin construction and operation of a cement manufacturing plant in northern Ste. Genevieve County.

“This is a major step forward for the economy of the area,” said State Rep. Dan Ward, D-Bonne Terre. “It will mean many jobs not only in the construction of the huge plant, but also good paying jobs for those who will be hired for the plant’s operation.”

A spokesperson for DNR said in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, “The permit is the culmination of a rigorous process of evaluating the permit application and extensive technical information and analysis pursuant to state legal requirements. State law requires the department to issue a permit when proposed emissions and controls comply with certain legal and technical requirements, particularly the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.”

The permit requires Holcim to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, especially in the summer time. Nitrogen oxide pollution is a significant concern because of the long-term problems in the St. Louis area with meeting federal air quality standards for ozone, which is the result of certain pollutants reacting in the atmosphere. The department has made every effort to ensure the conditions placed in the permit are protective of public health and air quality standards, including achieving significant reductions in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from Holcim’s original proposal.

This is the last in a series of permits required before Holcim can begin construction and operations of the cement plant. Citizens should send any notice of appeal to the Missouri Air Conservation Commission at P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or fax to (573) 751-2706 by 5 p.m. on July 9, 2004. For more information concerning the permit, please call the Air Pollution Control Program’s New Source Review Unit at 1-800-361-4827 or (573) 751-4817.

“They have been working on this since 1999,” Ward said. “They have cleared all the government hurdles and now it looks like they will be able to get started. Of course, there are probably going to be some civil law suits by environmental groups that will try to block it.”

The planned plant site is in a northern part of Ste. Genevieve County that was in the 107th District before the boundaries were changed. Ward said people from Holcim came to him for help in 1999, but before he would give the project his support he told them to get the support of Ste. Genevieve County people and officials.

Ward said he has followed the project through all of the state and federal permitting processes and believes “their design will result in minimal air pollution. They are using the latest technology and it appears the plant will fall well within allowed limits set by state and federal environmental agencies.”

As the DNR made the official announcement and Holcim representatives picked up copies of the permit, Ward said, “It is my pleasure to have been a part of it.”

The company’s plan calls for a quarry and kiln along the banks of the Mississippi River north of Ste. Genevieve. There have been provisions included in the company’s plan to protect against pollution of the river.

Earlier announcements indicate the plant could eventually employ as many as 200 people in the production of cement. While the proposed plant has won strong support from local business and the general community, it has drawn equally vocal opposition from environmentalists.

It is asserted by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment that the plant would more than double the amount of ozone-forming pollutants in Ste. Genevieve County. The organization believes this will have a major adverse effect on the air and ozone for the Greater St. Louis region.

The quarry and plant would be developed on a 1,600-acre tract of land that is just south of the Jefferson County line. The land is expected to provide a sufficient supply of limestone for operation of the plant for the next 100 years. Limestone is the main ingredient of Portland cement.

A harbor on the Mississippi River is also part of the project. It would be needed to bring in coal to fuel the kiln and also to haul the finished project from the plant in river barges.

Holcim, which has cement plants around the world, also has a plant at Clarksville on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. That plant is smaller than the one planned for Ste. Genevieve.

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