The LafargeHolcim cement plant, about 7 miles from the Greene County line, has for years had an air permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation permitting the company to generate tire-derived fuel to replace up to 20% of its fossil or solid fuel heat used to operate the facility’s cement kilns.

The company did not implement the process, but had plans in place to utilize the permit to operate its plant, which drew opposition from local environmental advocates. In other words, Lafarge gave the impression it was going to step outside the realm of its permit even though the plant was unqualified to meet the permit’s original terms.

As a result, the state withdrew authorization for the Route 9W cement plant to burn tires for fuel.

“The Lafarge facility currently lacks the infrastructure to burn TDF, and has not, nor has it ever, completed the steps necessary to burn tires pursuant to this permit,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.

LafargeHolcim received the DEC’s decision last Wednesday and is considering all of its options, a company spokeswoman said.

“We received the DEC’s correspondence yesterday afternoon and are in the process of reviewing it,” LafargeHolcim spokeswoman Jocelyn Gerst said last Thursday. “We will be weighing all available options.”

The LafargeHolcim plant on Route 9W is across the street from Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk middle and high schools. Albany Legislator Matt Miller, D-36, who is also a science teacher at the high school, said the decision was for the good of local students and residents.

The Hudson Valley ecosystem is fragile and anyone who remembers the massive 1989 tire fire in Catskill knows that smoke and gases from burning tires throws potentially dangerous chemicals into the air.

The DEC’s decision to withdraw Lafarge’s tire-derived fuel permit is a victory for the right to breathe clean air in Greene and Columbia counties.

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