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St. Lawrence's parent company gives chilly reception to regional delegation

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WALTHAM, MA -- A delegation of Hudson Valley and New England activists received a chilly reception during their surprise visit to the new U.S. headquarters of St. Lawrence Cement’s Swiss parent company, Holcim, here today.

Friends of Hudson director Sam Pratt, Scenic Hudson general counsel Warren Reiss, Eleanor Tillinghast of Green Berkshires, Inc., and Toxics Action Center field director Jay Rasku delivered copies of 16,000 petition signatures against SLC’s vast, coal-fired proposal less than 16 miles west of the Massachusetts border.

Rasku also presented Holcim with one of his organization’s “2004 Dirty Dozen” awards.

But Holcim public relations representative Janice Richards refused to let the visitors enter past the reception area, or to speak with any senior Holcim management at the company’s headquarters—which was quietly moved from Dundee, Michigan to Massachusetts late last year.

She also declined to accept either the petitions, which filled three large binders, or the Toxic Action Center’s award. The delegation nevertheless left these behind in the company’s reception area.

Pratt noted to the Holcim representative that “your company says it wants to be our neighbor by putting a giant coal-burning plant in our backyard. Why isn’t Holcim willing to talk with its potential neighbors?”

Holcim US controls 64% of SLC stock, and shares overlapping officers and board members with its subsidiary. The delegation was told to raise any concerns with the latest Greenport project manager, David Loomes, who replaced Phil Lochbrunner in November 2003.

“We pointed out that Mr. Loomes has locked concerned residents out of his press conferences, refused to answer questions at public meetings, and failed to respond to written requests for information,” Pratt stated. “That’s why we’re taking this to the corporate level, since its Greenport representatives have such a closed-door policy. And we have serious doubts that SLC is being honest with its parent company about just how badly things are going for them here in the Valley.”

Rasku quipped for the Holcim rep and assembled media, “I guess the next step is to take this to Switzerland.”