Ravena Cement plans upgrades

Lafarge North America Inc. announced major plans to upgrade its cement plant in Ravena in order to modernize its upstate facility.

The announcement, made Wednesday, July 9, comes on the heels of a federal Toxic Release Inventory report released in February that stated the Route 9W plant across from the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school released 400 pounds of mercury in 2006.

It is the first of many steps that Lafarge is taking in the New York regulatory permitting process, according to company spokesman Saleem Cheeks, which could result in an investment to modernize the Ravena cement plant. As it's currently proposed, the modernization project would replace the existing 46-year-old cement plant's equipment with state-of-the-art cement manufacturing technology.

"Today's action represents just the first step in a series of steps necessary to bring more modern manufacturing technologies to the Ravena plant, which would enhance emissions controls and environmental performance as well as improve industrial efficiency and reduce production costs," Joe Goss, Lafarge United States East Cement Business Unit President said at the announcement. "Lafarge is committed to continuous improvement in our operations to meet world-class standards, and this study is a further demonstration to our commitment in upstate New York."

Lafarge submitted its Environmental Assessment Form to the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The form, which initiates the permitting process, outlines the nature of the project and the rationale behind the move.

Cheeks described the project as an investment into the community and a commitment to the employees at the plant.

To move forward, the proposed project requires regulatory approval at the state and federal levels in addition to conducting advanced studies necessary to receive approval from Lafarge's board of directors.

The DEC has openly stated it is currently considering rules to limit mercury from cement plants, as the state has already required that coal-fired power plants reduce its emissions 90 percent by 2015.

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