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Chemtall wants permits to expand, residents want more study
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The sentiment of the standing-room-only crowd at the Environmental Protection Division's public hearing on the new permit for the SNF plant at Riceboro seemed to agree with the five speakers: We haven't had time to study this adequately, postpone the decision.
If approved, the new air quality permits would allow the plant to expand operations.
Chandra Brown, representing the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeepers, was the first to make an official for-the-record statement for consideration by EPD and she called for an extension of the public comment period before granting the permit.
"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.
Chemtall's plant manager David Kaye, who attended the meeting along with the firm's top safety official, has said the highly technical permit will allow modifications that are part of the firm's continued growth, that the company will increase the output of existing equipment as well as installing 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."
Written statements may be mailed to the EPD commenting on the permit and should be sent to:
James Capp
Air Protection Branch
4244 International Parkway, Suite 120
Atlanta GA 30354.
Information is available on the website
Unless EPD accepts the public's request for more time, written comments will be accepted until Tuesday, after which EPD will decide on the permit application.
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