Tulsa Councilman Fired Up Over Cement Plant Upgrade

Monday, July 25th 2011, 10:03 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa city councilor raised environmental concerns about an area cement plant Monday. He's worried changes at the plant could land Tulsa on the dirty air list.

Tulsa city councilor Roscoe Turner says the plant could soon produce 40 times the pollution it does. The plant manager says Turner's numbers are just plain wrong.

The plant has been churning out cement for decades, sitting on the line between Tulsa and Rogers counties. But it's some new changes to the plant that's got Turner fired up.

"You've got almost 400,000 people in the city of Tulsa that are going to be affected by what's going to come out of that stack down there," Turner said.

Read Turner's letter to Department of Environmental Quality.

The cylinder is basically a rotating oven, firing at a toasty 3,400 degrees. That takes quite a bit of fuel.

Lafarge currently burns everything from coal to used tires to keep the operation running, now it wants to replace all that with what they call fuel quality waste.

Plant manager Jim Bachmann says that's basically stuff you could find under your kitchen sink or your garage, like used oils, paints, and cleaners. Some people are worried burning those hazardous materials could be hazardous to your health.

"But I know I'll be breathing that stuff. People probably in Oologah will be breathing it. I mean we do have wind around here," said Tulsa resident B. Geary.

Geary brought her concerns to Turner. She believes Lafarge's sulfur emissions could increase from 10 tons per year to 873 tons per year.

"I think it's very foolish to do something when they can already predict this huge increase in toxic emissions," Geary said.

"The numbers that are in here. Yes they are in the permit. But they're taken totally out of context and misrepresented," Bachmann said.

Bachmann says it's actually an increase of ten tons per year, going from 863 to 873 tons per year. That's barely a one percent increase.

Read Evaluation of Permit Application by Systech Environmental Corporation.

He says the plant's got a proven track record of following federal and state limits for emissions, using real time, computerized monitoring.

"I breathe this air; our employees breathe this air every day. the last thing we would ever do is permit something that will be unsafe for the employees and certainly for the community," he said.

City councilor Roscoe Turner says he has not seen Lafarge's permit application and he didn't ask for a copy. He says no one has spoken to the city council about this issue.

Lafarge's plant manager says he's invited Turner and others to tour the facility and they didn't respond. Turner insists he's never been contacted by the company.