Saturday, December 16, 2017

Connecticut Garbage in Upstate New York

I couldn't resist the title for its faint echo of Mark Twain, but in truth this post is not about garbage so much as it is about cement and the lingering impact of the multinational cement company that was prevented from building a behemoth coal-fired cement plant here back in 2005: Holcim, then known as St. Lawrence Cement. In 2015, Holcim merged with Lafarge, which operates a cement plant upriver in Ravena, to form LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement maker. This post reports three items of news, speculation, and possibility involving LafargeHolcim.

Photo: The Concrete Producer

The first is news. Last Friday, the New York Times reported on something that happened before the Swiss corporation Holcim merged with the French corporation Lafarge: "France Investigates Lafarge Executives for Terrorist Financing."  It is alleged that the company helped finance the Islamic State militant group and other armed factions in an effort to keep its plant in northern Syria operating and profitable.

Then, there is speculation about LafargeHolcim and Colarusso. It seems that when Colarusso bought the quarry, South Bay, and the dock from Holcim in 2014, they agreed not to compete with Holcim in the cement industry. Now that Holcim and Lafarge are one company, there is nothing preventing Colarusso from supplying limestone to the LafargeHolcim plant just up the river and delivering it by barge, which could mean a huge increase in blasting activity in the quarry and a similarly huge increase in the number of trucks hauling stone to the river and the number of barges coming and going from the dock.

Now, here's the garbage part. It seems that the State of Connecticut is looking to replace an aging trash incinerator in Hartford that serves seventy Connecticut towns. There are three proposals for accomplishing this: one is to rebuild the incinerator in Hartford; another is to expand an existing incinerator in Bristol, Connecticut, and ship the trash there; and the third is to transport the trash to New York and burn it at the LafargeHolcim plant in Ravena, which is already one of the biggest polluters in the state. This proposal, which was submitted by a group called Mustang Renewable Power Ventures, can be found here. Reference to the LafargeHolcim cement plant in Ravena appears on pages 6, 7, and 15-16. The source of this information about this proposal is Energy Justice Network.



  2. The human need for concrete and our creation of garbage continues.
    Every house contains concrete, both new and historical.
    We are victims of our own creations.
    Spend a few minutes at the County Transfer Sta. located on Newman Rd and witness the constant traffic of vehicles dropping off all forms of trash.
    And just where does all "our" garbage get trucked away?

  3. Tom, landfills are not better than combustion for a number of reasons, but there are more than two options for handling of MSW, most of which are better than either of those. For a review of garbage options in NY, check out a DEC study on the issue from a few years ago:
    Our MSW gets trucked to western NY, a one way trip of about 240 miles.