Cement plant raises issues Essay Example
Cement plant raises issues Essay Example

Cement plant raises issues Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1159 words)
  • Published: January 26, 2019
  • Type: Case Study
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Pueblo citizens are currently fighting against the establishment of a cement plant in their city. They are opposing the construction and working to inform decision-makers about its negative consequences. The common citizens believe that any potential job creation will be outweighed by the harmful effects it would have on the community. However, elected officials support attracting new businesses for the benefit of the community.

The Rio Grande Portland Cement Corp., with plans to construct a highly automated cement plant valued at $160 million, has received approval from the Pueblo County Planning Commission. They were granted a special-use permit for their mining and manufacturing facility on a 6,000-acre area in southeast Pueblo. Once all necessary permits are obtained, Rio Grande will proceed with building the cement plant off Lime Road, east of Stem Beach exit on Interstat


e 25.

However, there are 21 restrictions included in the special-use permit that must be followed by Rio Grande. These restrictions cover various aspects such as providing copies of license applications and regulatory reports to the county, limitations on blasting in the limestone quarry during certain times, and a prohibition on retail sales without a permit amendment (citation here).If Rio Grande violates any of these restrictions, the county may consider revoking their special-use permit. It is important to note that Rio Grande's operations are only allowed on up to 70 acres of land at a time. The kiln cannot burn tires or hazardous materials unless there is an amendment made through a new application and public hearing. The issuance of this permit has sparked ongoing controversy as citizens in Pueblo have expressed concerns about its impact on air quality and potential health

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risks. Cecil Ross, a nearby resident who owns approximately 200 acres, strongly opposes the cement plant due to the potential harm it poses to the community and local wildlife. During a press conference organized by Neil Carman, a former Texas air quality inspector brought in by opponents of the plant, Ross voiced his concerns. Furthermore, Citizens for Clean Air and Water in Pueblo/Southern Colorado have highlighted that Rio Grande's own permit acknowledges releasing approximately 6 million pounds of pollutants into the air each year. According to the draft application submitted by Rio Grande for a Colorado air quality control permit, estimates indicate emissions such as 160 tons per year of particulate pollution (averaging around 35 pounds released daily), 150 tons of very small particulates, 1,000 tons of nitrous oxides, 944 tons of sulfur dioxide, and approximately 1,000 tons of carbon monoxide (citation here).Rio Grande initially requested permission to produce 1 million tons of cement annually, but they have now applied for an amendment to increase the permitted amount significantly to 100 million tons per year. Ron Hedrick, Vice President of Operations at Rio Grande, states that this increase in production would lead to a significant rise in emissions. He argues that the only visible effect from their operations would be water vapor on cold days (citation here). However, there are unseen toxins in the emissions from the cement plant that pose health risks for individuals with preexisting conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and pneumonia. A study conducted in South Carolina shows a higher prevalence (50-100%) of symptoms like coughing phlegm, wheezing, sore throat, and eye irritation among those affected. Additionally,a separate study reveals an

increased numberof diagnosed cases related to emphysema,sinus issues,and bronchitis cough among residents living downwind from a hazardous waste incinerator(citation here). In 1989, a British study found a significant concentration of larynx cancer cases among individuals living within 2 kilometers of a hazardous waste incinerator (Travis, 1989). The presence of pollutants in the air can result in mild to severe symptoms and respiratory illnesses. Contrary to popular belief,the Pueblo Economic Development Corp.did not have any involvement in Rio Grande's decision to build in this area.Rio Grande received guidance on permit applications solely from the state of Colorado. Jim Spaccamonti, President of PEDCo, explicitly stated that no incentives were offered to the plant for establishing itself in Pueblo County. To gain public support, Rio Grande has proposed various solutions such as hiring skilled workers at competitive wages with benefits. However, it remains uncertain who will fill these positions until it is too late.

Regarding dust control, Rio Grande plans to implement water misting or dust-collecting systems within their buildings and ensure a closed-off and dry cement production process. Despite some dissatisfaction, the company intends to primarily utilize coal as fuel in their cement plant, considering natural gas only as an alternative option. Carman suggests that using natural gas instead of coal may result in fewer hazardous emissions.

The plant's process involves heating materials at temperatures exceeding 2,700 degrees using a coal-fired kiln, leading to clinker formation which is later ground for the final product. The ash from the coal is then utilized in production, making coal more cost-effective for Rio Grande compared to natural gas. This decision showcases the company's prioritization of its self-interest over its impact on the


Brian McGill, Rio Grande's environmental manager assures compliance with state and federal air quality standards and continuous monitoring for adherence.McGill emphasizes that Rio Grande has no intention of causing harm or polluting the environment. The permit, which includes pollutants such as hydrogen chloride, benzene, sulfur trioxide, ammonia, manganese compounds, methylene chloride, chlormethane and chromium (citation here), also encompasses the perspective provided by the Downwinders At Risk website. According to the website (http://www.cementkiln.com/downwinders/factsheet.html), a cement plant in Midlothian, Texas was identified as the largest source of air pollution in the northern area. In 1995 alone, this plant emitted 24,096,200 pounds of five major contaminants and ranked second in particulate matter pollution with a total of 826.8 tons in the region.

Despite public concerns about this issue being widespread among citizens of Pueblo City Council supporting the construction of a new cement plant conditionally on it obtaining environmental permits (citation here). The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission has authority over granting permits for industries to emit hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere and can impose limitations during days when air pollution is deemed harmful to the environment (citation here).

Following news about a proposed cement plant near Pueblo City Council forming social networks where neighbors, family members and friends united forces to protest against it.A gathering that took place on July 20 saw around 200 individuals protesting against a particular cement plant. Both supporters and opponents of the construction presented their arguments during this meeting (The Pueblo Chieftain Online). The bibliography includes works such as "The New Urban Sociology" by Mark Gottdiener and Ray Hutchison (2000) and "Social Problems: A Critical Approach" by Kenneth J. Neubeck and Mary Alice Neubeck

(1997). Additionally, there are articles like "Rio Grande could clean up its plant with natural gas" written by Peter Roper (july/21/ni1.htm) and "Cement plant showdown." Furthermore, Downwinders At Risk provides information regarding hazardous waste incineration at TXIs Midlothian cement plant through their website at http://www.cementkiln.com/downwinders/factsheet.html.

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