Friday, August 17, 2001

Drywall maker Lafarge cited by state as polluter

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SILVER GROVE — The Lafarge Gypsum Co., the largest drywall manufacturer in the United States, has been cited by the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet for violating state air pollution regulations.

        The cabinet's Division of Air Quality said the Campbell County company's violations involve gypsum dust that is stored in large open piles on the Lafarge property along Ky. 8.

[photo] The Lafarge plant uses gypsum to produce drywall.
(Enquirer file photo)
| ZOOM |
        The notice of violation states that “Lafarge has failed to provide adequate enclosure and/or dust suppression to control emissions from gypsum and recycled wallboard stockpiles.”

        The notice of violation said Lafarge has not taken reasonable precautions to prevent the gypsum dust from becoming airborne and periodically crossing the property line and blowing into the adjoining neighborhood.

        Those emissions of airborne gypsum dust were the reason for a citizens' civil lawsuit against Lafarge which is pending in Campbell County Circuit Court. One of the residents, Steve Bellamy, has videotapes showing the dust blowing across Ky. 8 to his home, where it coats his house and automobile and sifts in under windows and doors.

        Lafarge, a French company that is the largest manufacturer of building materials in the world and one of the world's largest drywall manufacturers, opened the Silver Grove plant last summer. The plant employs about 100 people.

        Local attorney Bill Robinson, who represents Lafarge, said Thursday that the company learned of the notice of violations in the last few days.

        “We need to evaluate the situation,” he said. “Lafarge has an excellent record of environmental compliance, and the company will immediately look into these allegations to determine their accuracy and whether or not there is a need for remedial attention.”

        The state agency said in a letter to Lafarge that the gypsum dust emissions were observed on several occasions by staff members of the Division of Air Quality Review. The DAQ charged that the open gypsum stockpile was not adequately represented in the company's permit application, and the recycled wallboard stockpile was not included in the application.

        The company was ordered to immediately cease violating the regulations, and continued violations are subject to fines of up to $25,000 a day.

        By Aug. 24, the state is requiring Lafarge to provide the DAQ with a revised remedial plan to correct all violations. The company must also have a plan for testing for dioxins and other toxic materials in the outdoor gypsum stockpiles.

        The gypsum, the main ingredient in the manufacture of drywall, is brought downriver by barge to Lafarge from Cinergy's Zimmer power plant at Moscow, Ohio.

        It is moved by conveyor from the barges to large open piles on fenced property outside the Lafarge plant.
        It opened last year in Silver Grove. Neighbors have periodically complained about dust coating their property and automobiles.


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