Lehigh Northeast Cement Co. received approval for an air permit update from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to burn raggertail as alternative fuel, reported The Post-Star. The paper and plastic mixture will be burned in the Glens Falls plant’s cement kiln along with coal or natural gas.

In a statement to The Post-Star, the DEC said it “determined the emissions/operations reflected in the application to be in full compliance with New York’s stringent rules and regulations governing air emissions, which are fully protective of public health and the environment. DEC will continue to provide strict oversight of the facility, including conducting regular inspections to ensure all conditions of the permit are met.”

The DEC’s approval comes after months of questions and concerns from local residents. Nearly 60 comments were submitted on the application, after the DEC comment period was extended twice and Lehigh held a public informational meeting.

John Brodt, vice president of Behan Communications and spokesman for Lehigh, said that the company was pleased the DEC approved the permit change “after an extremely thorough scientific review and public comment process.”

“This is an important decision for our Glens Falls plant and the nearly 100 local people who work there,” Brodt told The Post-Star. “We look forward to continuing to work hard to keep our plant competitive for the long-term.”

Brodt said one revision made to the approved permit is that Lehigh will have to “sample the contents of the raggertail product each day it is used.”

Lehigh has continuously touted the burning of the alternative fuel as a way to keep the product out of landfills and a way to reduce the plant’s use of fossil fuels. A trial run of the product conducted in 2017 also showed the plant’s air emissions levels for pollutants were “below currently allowable levels, which have been determined by state and federal regulators to be protective of human health and the environment,” Brodt added.

The producer has yet to announce when it will begin burning the alternative fuel at the Glens Falls plant.

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