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Study finds little certainty on Lafarge's health impact

"Protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of life in Ravena are issues that we've been focused on for years, and is why we're focused on making significant improvements to our plant," Reagan said.

A study out of Harvard University that includes the Ravena area is also due to be released in coming months, said Kunz, and it's one CASE has high hopes for. Researchers gathered blood samples and other data straight from residents for the study.

"It's taken [the DOH] so long to do this. I hope the next phase will be productive, but we're also very interested with seeing what happens with the folks at Harvard," Kunz said.

The Department of Health will be hosting a public meeting on its study on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in the RCS High School Auditorium. DOH staff will summarize the report and take comments.

Additionally, comments may be submitted in writing to ceheduc@health.state.ny.us or faxed to 402-7539. A copy of the report is available at www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/investigations/lafarge. The comment period is open through Feb. 15, 2011, at which time a final report will be compiled taking into consideration public comments.

In another significant development for the Lafarge cement plant, the Department of Environmental Conservation recently accepted the company's draft environmental impact statement for its modernization project, opening up a 90-day public comment period on the document.

Lafarge is aiming to undertake a massive construction project at the facility that will fundamentally change the way it makes concrete. The upgrade is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $400 million and would replace the current "wet" kiln with a dry process that promises to save energy and reduce many emissions. The company has been working on the required environmental impact statement for some time.

"It's a big step in the permitting process. Its a big milestone," Reagan said.

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