DIRTIER NEW SLC PLANT DESIGN STILL 20% DIRTIER
Download a table estimating SLC's updated pollution figures in Acrobat (PDF) format by clicking HERE
St. Lawrence Cement's latest design for its vast, coal-fired Hudson Valley proposal could still result in a potential 20.4% increase in regulated pollutants, or more -- even using the vague percentages provided by the company itself in a recent press release.
The proposed plant would be permitted to emit some 16-17 million pounds of regulated pollutants, based on the rough and unsupported figures presented at the company's October 2004 media event, which local residents and intervenor groups were not allowed to attend, and in a subsequent press release.
Even when taking everything the company says at face value, Friends of Hudson computes a potential 20.4% increase overall in regulated pollutants such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds, as compared to its existing facility.
Given St. Lawrence Cement's notoriously poor track record of environmental violations, failing to meet promises to other host communities, as well as its history of price-fixing and myriad other legal problems, Friends of Hudson expects that if this plant were built, the company would likely exceed its permitted levels and pay small fines as a cost of doing business. The 20% potential increase is therefore a very conservative estimate, based on the company's own figures.
The more than 20% increase over Catskill compares SLC's own claims about what its existing, smaller plant actually emits to the new permit levels the company says it intends to seek. (Despite holding a press conference to announce these changes, the company has not filed any revised permit applications to New York State DEC regulators.) Friends of Hudson uses this appropriate yardstick to compare the facilities because:
(1) SLC claims it will make our air cleaner, so the actual Catskill baseline emissions is the only "real world" number for assessing that claim;
(2) Only the upper permit level for the new plant would be enforceable, so citizens and officials could only hold the new plant and its cleaner air promise to that new permit figures.
The sources for Friends of Hudson's updated calculations are St. Lawrence Cement's own Air Permit Application, Table 4-1 (2001); the company's own press release claiming reductions in Catskill baseline emissions of NOx (2002); and the most recent company press release regarding changes to its Greenport plant design (2004).
Friends of Hudson cautions that despite written requests from intervenor groups, SLC still has not provided any hard numbers on its new pollution claims, which were presented only as percentages (not in tons or pounds) in a highly simplified press release format. Therefore, our 20.4% estimated incrase is merely the best the public can hope to calculated based on the sketchy information released by company's public relations team.
In addition, it should be noted that St. Lawrence officials admitted to Kingston Daily Freeman reporter Jonathan Ment that its changes might result in even more carbon monoxide emissions, meaning that the percentage increase may prove even larger than 20.4% once SLC actually files paperwork.
Until the company files a new permit application, and backs it up with some independently-verifiable engineering analysis, none of its latest claims can be fully analyzed or taken seriously, especially in light of its failure to meet such goals at other facilities, and its history of dealing in bad faith with our local communities.
Friends of Hudson believes that even if every one of St. Lawrence's claims were proven correct, which is highly unlikely, siting its new proposal within one mile of Columbia Memorial Hospital and the relatively dense population centers of Hudson, Greenport and Claverack is unsafe for human health, and unwise land use planning. The doctors of CMH and the American Lung Association continue to oppose this ill-advised proposal due to the clear theat it would pose to human health.