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LaFarge touts DEIS completion as public hearing schedule heats up

Dec 03, 2010 9:55 am

RAVENA - Lafarge Cement has started stressing its completion of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for its plant renovation plans in Ravena, simultaneous to the state Department of Health's release of the first phase of its study of current and possible impacts at the site. "Overall, the new plant will reduce Lafarge's environmental footprint," Environmental Manager John Reagan said in an article in today's Ravena News-Herald, Catskill Daily Mail, Chatham Courier and Hudson Register-Star in response to DEC's announcement. "It will be cleaner, more efficient and the emissions from most chemicals will decrease. Greenhouse gases per ton of product will decrease as well... It will enable the Ravena plant to be sustainable and remain a competitive cement manufacturer well into the future." The new story, released just days after we blogged an earlier story by Hawke about the state Department of Health's releasing the first ground-laying phase of its own report on the existing plant, and growth plans, seems to answer complaints we heard from Lafarge advocates who questioned WGXC's use of a headline suggesting that the DOH was being "soft" on Lafarge, which we explained was written in reference to standing charges by the citzen's watchdog group Community Advocates for Safe Emissions. At the same time, the new emphasis on the DEIS completion also anticipates a possible backlash against Lafarge's plans that we warned its advocate was likely to come from Columbia County veretans of the St. Lawrence cement plant fight of a few years back, as well as Greene County veterans of the movement that questioned the building of the Athens Generating Plant. Reagan, as quoted by Hawke in today's story, pointed out the project has been two years in the making and represents an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of manhours, and added how the new $300 million project could bring a financial boon to the area, providing 800 hundred temporary construction jobs as well as another 1,300 related to the modernization process and "a return to current levels of roughly 180 employees." Lafarge eliminated 37 jobs in early January, 2009, leaving it at the 180 current level it is now referring to as what it wants to maintain. A public information meeting about the proposed plant will take place at the Ravena High School on December 8 and a legislative hearing is scheduled for January 20, 2011.

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