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Group calls for full impact statement, public hearing on Lehigh expansion

“Neg dec,” pollution, grandfathering, cumulative impacts with new St. Lawrence slag cement operation at Catskill not properly considered by company and DEC

HUDSON, N.Y. -- Continuing its early participation in the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of the proposed expansion of the Glens Falls Lehigh Company’s slag-drying and grinding operations in Cementon, Friends of Hudson again challenged the proposal in comments filed today with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

FoH renewed “its concerns first expressed in 2001 when the Department issued a Negative Declaration” in comments filed in February of that year, which charged that the determination was “striking for its lack of detail.” The group “strongly joins in the demand by other commentors that the Negative Declaration should be rescinded and that an EIS be required that looks carefully at the full range of GFLC’s operations and the cumulative impacts of those operations with the other approved and pending applications of the cement industry in the area.” The comments also call for a full public hearing.

In addition to endorsing “the comments submitted by other interested persons including the Town of Germantown,” Friends of Hudson’s brief also alleges that Glens Fall Lehigh should not be allowed to “hide behind a strained interpretation of the SEQRA grandfathering language ... GFLC largely abandoned this facility in the mid- 1990's and cannot reactivate the plant without being subject to the full range of SEQRA analysis.”

As for air pollution, lead attorney for the group Jeffrey S. Baker noted that “the emission limits on the Finishing Mills do not represent BACT” (Best Available Control Technology).

Friends of Hudson also questioned the Department’s lack of consideration of the cumulative impact of GFLC’s operation with other facilities nearby, noting that the combined noise, river traffic, and other impacts of the proposed expansion with St. Lawrence Cement’s plans to create a new slag cement operation nextdoor in Catskill had not been addressed.

SLC’s new operation at Catskill, which has received relatively little public attention, would go forward regardless of the fate of its controversial, coal-fired Greenport project, and would result in “a dramatic increase in its dockside operations, resulting in noise impacts to Germantown in virtually the same area impacted from GFLC.”