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Chemtall gets permits to expand

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POSTED: September 18, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Citizens at a public meeting in March were united in saying a new SNF-Chemtall permit needed more study and more input, but the state Environmental Protection Division has approved the permit.
Chemtall's plant manager David Kaye said the highly technical permit will allow modifications that are part of the firm's continued growth and that the company will increase the output of existing equipment as well as install new equipment.
The plant will employ more workers as a result of the expansion.
"We added 120 workers last year," Kaye said, "I don't know what the exact future number will be, but along the same rate."
The standing-room-only crowd at the March hearing appeared to be in agreement with five citizens who made official statements, led by Chandra Brown of the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeepers.
Each of the speakers asked for more time to study Chemtall's proposal.
"This needs a comprehensive review," Brown said.
Brown noted that the plant had made 10 permit changes since 2003 and asked if the multiple changes had been evaluated together to see if their combined effect would trigger the environmental watchdog agency's Prevention of Significant Deterioration procedure.
EPD officials said they had not.
The incineration of methanol on the plant site is a concern of Brown's, and she noted that the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) Web site showed Chemtall had been in noncompliance for 12 quarters during the past three years.
ECHO shows no current significant violations, and EPD said the firm had been in compliance since a consent order in April 2007.
Four other speakers went on the record asking EPD to delay permit approval and obtain more public input. One of the four, Pastor Tawanna LeCounte, also called for an advisory committee to improve public communication with SNF Riceboro and other large industries, some of which, she noted, are not good corporate citizens as SNF is.
A matter not directly related to the permit, the possibility of an evacuation of the chemical plant's area, drew sharp attention at the March meeting.
When asked about the evacuation plan, Kaye said, "We don't have one," going to explain that he meant that the plan was probably was not practical.
Riceboro has no police department, and Kaye said if an evacuation were needed it would mean calling the sheriff's department and going from door to door to warn people.
Brown said consultants and attorneys were going over EPD's action and considering a response.
The EPD permit documents are at http://www.georgiaair.org/airpermit/permits/1790011/tv17096/1790011nar.pdf
 

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