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Lafarge Plant Raises More Concerns

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-902039.mp3

Albany, NY – The Lafarge Cement Plant in Ravena, New York is the focal point of concerns regarding the environment and the health of people living within a 10-mile radius of the facility... Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The plant has caused many concerns over environmental issues after reports of children suffering from mercury and lead poisoning. This week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation held a public hearing on what's called a "title 5 air permit renewal application" for the Lafarge cement plant in Ravena. DEC officials listened to public comment as they weighed in on the decision to renew Lafarge's permit. One of the biggest concerns of the roughly 150 attendees was mercury emissions. The Department of Health has begun a Public Health Assessment dealing with the affects of cement plant emissions on the community.

A "public health assessment" is being conducted this weekend. Individuals age 7 and up living within a 10-mile radius of Ravena, including residents of Columbia County, are eligible to participate in the Harvard Health study at no cost. The DEC responded to a request for comment by email, saying that it welcomes the Harvard Study. The DEC notes that emission reductions at Lafarge are driven by Title 5, along with new Federal regulations (slated to be finalized by June)and a Federal/state consent decree which requires the plant to be retrofitted with emission controls or rebuilt. Lafarge wants to go with a rebuild, which will trigger more stringent limits under the federal law. The deadline for submitting written comments on Lafarge's Title V air permit is May 21.