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Lafarge project clears regulatory hurdle

$400M modernization on track for a fall start

After a nearly three-year review, a major modernization of the Lafarge cement plant in Ravena is in line to get the green light from state and federal environmental watchdogs, paving the way for a fall start of construction.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday, July 8, officially accepted the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on the modernization project, kicking off a 10-day waiting period before the issuance of air and water permits. It's expected the permits will be issued during the week of July 18, leaving only a building permit with the Town of Coeymans to be secured.

We're pleased with the process of the project. The DEC has been doing great job holding us to the level of detail necessary, said Lafarge Environmental Manager John Reagan. "We're looking forward to finishing the process."

The modernization project is expected to cost $400 million and create 800 temporary construction jobs. The cornerstone of the upgrade is a replacement of the plant's wet kiln with a dry one, which should be much more efficient than the aging facilities now in place.

The size of the project, along with Lafarge's industrial operations and emissions, meant the environmental review was an extensive one, resulting in a document hundreds of pages long. Gene Kelly, Region 4 director for the DEC, said the agency is pleased with the robustness of the process, and also that so many positive comments were collected from the public.

"We got hundreds of comments, written comments that were submitted. The overwhelming majority of those comments were very supportive," he said.

The DEC also held a formal legislative hearing in Ravena in January, when the sentiments coming from residents and advocacy groups alike followed along those same lines. The Lafarge plant has often come under fire for being one of the largest emitters of mercury in the state.

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