Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fuel Aside, Plant Is Quiet Neighbor

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fuel Aside, Plant Is Quiet Neighbor

Article excerpt

THE FOUR MISSOURI cement plants that burn hazardous waste are on the Mississippi River for good reason. They quarry the limestone bluffs for raw material, and transport the finished product on the river.

River Cement Co. is in a bucolic setting on 804 acres five miles south of Festus. A two-lane private road winds through woods and fields before arriving at the sprawling industrial complex.

The plant, which has 155 employees, is out of sight of its nearest neighbor, the Seclusion Woods subdivision, more than a mile away. "We really have very little communication with them at all - I doubt most people know what they do," said Rick Turley, the Festus city administrator. "But I don't think it's a big secret that they burn hazardous waste. There's a lot of people who work there." River Cement has two brick-lined, steel-encased rotating kilns side by side. At 560 feet long, the tilted cylinders are wide enough to drive a car through, and hot enough to melt it at temperatures up to 2,700 degrees. On a tour of the Continental Cement Co. kiln at Hannibal, an operator offered a welder's helmet for a view inside the slowly revolving inferno. "Want to see what hell looks like?" he asked. Crushed limestone, clay or sand are heated to make a material mixed with gypsum and water to form the glue that holds gravel and sand together to make concrete. Gases pass through pollution controls and out the stack. In 1988, River Cement began adding hazardous waste to the petroleum products it burns to heat the kilns. The wastes total up to 30 percent of the fuel at times. To meet the 1991 regulations on cement kilns, River Cement installed monitors that check the kiln performance and automatically cut off the flow of hazardous waste when conditions indicate excess emissions. In 1993, an EPA inspector toured River Cement and found 20 violations of environmental rules, ranging from failing to properly store hazardous waste to operating an off-site storage area without a permit. …

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