Business

Tire burning nixed for now

Late last week the Cemex Fairborn cement plant withdrew its request with the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency to test burn tires as a partial fuel for its manufacturing operations. Cemex Plant Manager Bud McCormick stated in a letter to RAPCA on Nov. 6 that the withdrawal was “due to market conditions,” which, according to Cemex spokesperson Jennifer Borgen, have caused the company to delay the test until likely 2010.

“There was considerable long-term investment involved in the project from purchasing equipment to conducting the test, and this was just to get through the testing phase,” Borgen said. “We’re refocusing our funds on projects with earlier payoffs until the market bounces back.”

Cemex plans to remove the continuous emissions monitor system that was installed for the test, disable its tire conveyor, and allow the $350,000 grant from Ohio Department of Natural Resources to elapse, according to the letter. Cemex anticipates that the market could recover by 2010, at which point the company does plan to reapply to RAPCA for a permit exemption to complete the tire burn test, Borgen said. If economic forces allow the test burn to happen faster, then the company could apply earlier, or the company could be forced to delay even longer, she added.

Cemex has sought the opportunity to test the efficacy of using tires as a partial fuel for the plant on and off for over a decade, but has never performed the test. Early in its 2006-07 permit exemption period, the Fairborn plant operators delayed because they had difficulty getting corporate funding to complete the test. Then in the fall of 2007, RAPCA denied Cemex the permit because of unresolved permit violations the company had incurred previously.

But RAPCA reversed that decision last spring and agreed to allow Cemex to go ahead with the 120-day test burn using a fuel combination of tires, petroleum coke and coal. Cemex had planned to complete the test before the end of the year, and if it had received a permit to burn tires permanently, the plant estimated it could burn up to 3 million tires a year.

The news from Cemex came as a welcome respite for members of the Green Environmental Coalition, who have been working for many years to stop the cement company from polluting the region’s air. GEC chairperson Dawn Falleur is grateful for the temporary reprieve, she said in an e-mail last week, but she knows that the community will likely have to deal with the issue again in the future.

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