Litigation obstacles dismissed for concrete plant

Friday, October 15, 2004

200 full-time jobs

Business Today

STE. GENEVIEVE -- Holcim (US) Inc. and four environmental groups reached an agreement Oct. 5 that will result in the dismissal of all pending litigation and administrative actions previously filed against the company's efforts to build a cement plant in Ste. Genevieve County, according to a company news release.

The dismissal of the litigation and administrative actions will help keep plans for the proposed $600 million cement plant moving forward. Holcim Inc. plans to build the plant near the Mississippi River in northern Ste. Genevieve County.

The company says the project would generate about three million man-hours of work and employ about 1,000 construction workers at its peak. Once the plant is operational, it would provide about 200 full-time jobs and yield an estimated $143 million in personal income statewide.

"Throughout this process, we have taken steps to address the concerns some people have raised about the project," said Eric Ervin, Holcim's Ste. Genevieve project manager. "This agreement results in a stronger project and one that will lead to significant environmental benefits for this region."

The groups involved in the agreement with Holcim are the American Bottom Conservancy, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Webster Groves Nature Study Society, which have been represented by the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic.

After four years of environmental review and legal challenges, a process that has involved eight federal and state regulatory agencies, Holcim received all regulatory approvals and permits to build the cement plant.

State and federal agencies have issued permits for the quarrying of limestone, restoration of previously quarried land, control of storm water runoff, construction and operation of a slack-water harbor, and the creation or enhancement of more than 60 acres of wetlands.

In addition, Holcim received an air pollution control permit that requires the company to meet the lowest emission limits to date for any cement plant in the United States.

The project is on approximately 3,900 acres in Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve counties. The quarry and plant will utilize approximately 1,300 acres during a 100-year period. Approximately 2,200 acres will be a buffer area.

"This four-year review process and the requirements of the permits make this facility one of the most environmentally efficient plants in the world," said Ervin. "By resolving this pending litigation, we will be able to move forward more quickly, bringing this project and its benefits to the region as soon as possible."

As part of the agreement with the groups, Holcim is committed to several key environmental steps. Those environmental measures include:

-- Holcim will provide up to $3 million for environmental projects within the region. Such projects may include efforts such as school bus emission reduction programs, air quality research, and energy conservation and educational programs. Also, Holcim will support land preservation in Missouri and Illinois, carried out through independent conservation organizations.

-- Holcim will grant a conservation easement over much of the site's buffer area to an independent conservation expert.

-- The company has agreed to restrictions on cutting trees during specific periods of the year in certain areas of the project site once cement plant operations begin.

-- Holcim will reasonably minimize the generation of light toward Isle du Bois Creek and the Mississippi River.

Holcim believes this agreement will accelerate the schedule for the construction of the Ste. Genevieve facility. The company continues to review the next steps in selecting a contractor and looks to begin construction in 2005.

Holcim (US) Inc. is one of the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of cement and mineral components. The company is a subsidiary of Holcim Ltd. of Switzerland. With interests in more than 70 countries on all continents, Holcim Ltd. is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement.

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