Lafarge Environmental Manager John Reagan presented an update to the New Baltimore Town Board about modernization plans for the Ravena facility at their recent meeting.

"Our mission is to run a safe plant and partner with the community," Reagan said.

The Ravena location is located on 3,200 acres with quarries on the western escarpment and employs about 180 people with roughly 300 related jobs throughout Greene, Albany and surrounding counties and 15,000 people in 1000 businesses in the US and Canada.

Lafarge has estimated that the plant will involve a $300 million to $400 million investment over the span of 36-64 months. The company expects an expenditure of roughly $163 million in labor, equipment and materials in the regional economy with 22 percent going to local vendors. The plant will not need any infrastructure investment as the company is renovating current buildings.

The plant would augment the income for all regional households by $129 million.

The plant was constructed by Atlantic Cement Company in the 1960s because of its proximity to limestone quarries and the Hudson River. It ships 80-85 percent of its products by barge along the Atlantic seaboard.

"We are especially proud that our products are being used in the foundation for the new buildings going up at the World Trade Center site." added Reagen.

Lafarge's is also confident that it will be able to take adequate care of the main community concerns of air emissions, traffic and tower height.

"We will have the most fuel efficient technology and the most effective pollution controls available," Reagen said.

Responding to concerns recently raised by Community Advocates for Safe Emissions, a local environmental group, Reagan said, "Because of advances in science and technology, rules change all the time on both the state and federal level,"he said. "But LaFarge has always and will always comply with EPA rules."

Taking into view the public concerns, the company has already filed an Environmental Assessment Form with the DEC and conducted a public scoping meeting. It has also applied for a new air permit and expects to draft an Environmental Impact Statement in the fall. Lafarge will follow these procedures with final public hearings, a final EIS, Responsiveness Summary and Permits.

Lafarge also plans to replace the existing two wet kilns with a single dry one which would result in the use of 40 percent less fuel per ton of clinker.

The plant will also be installed with scrubbers for SO2 and which would reduce pollution by 90 percent per ton of product. Also, the company would install an innovative dust collector system for dust emissions and reduce NOx by 60 percent per ton by using SNCR (selective noncatalytic reduction). The modernization techniques in the plant will also enable it to capture waste heat and convert it to usable energy.

Reagan is also sure that the slight increase in CO2 emissions will cause no significant effect on overall air quality.