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Society more concerned after release of data

Waiareka Valley Preservation Society

Press Release – 27 December 2006

“Society more concerned after release of data by Holcim”

Rodney Jones, spokesman for the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society, commented today:

“The Society has carefully examined the limited additional data and comments that Holcim released on their Weston Cement Plant. We hope to receive more complete data from Holcim in the New Year.

The Society remains profoundly concerned by the prospect of Holcim building a one million tonne cement plant at Weston, and the data Holcim provided has done nothing to diminish our concern.

While Holcim has indicated that the Weston plant emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides will be less concentrated than at their current Westport plant, the level of SO2 emissions will be substantially above World Health Organisation (WHO) July 2006 guidelines.

The WHO levels are particularly relevant for the Weston plant given that a large and vibrant primary school is within 2km of the plant. International research in the last few years has shown that the environmental and health impacts of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are larger than earlier thought. Only this year in the WHO tightened their guidelines in response to this research.

We were surprised at the degree to which the Weston plant will rely on large quantities of waste oil. International research has shown that high levels of waste oil as an energy input are associated with significant increases in the emission of heavy metals, particularly lead, mercury, thallium and cadmium.

Given the population around the plant, and the intensive agriculture and horticulture within a 10km radius of the plant, heavy metal emissions remain a primary source of concern. Holcim’s assurance that the plant will operate with international Holcim limits for trace metals is not reassuring.

Oamaru as an area is a particularly sensitive receiving area for the sort of the pollution Holcim is proposing to generate, and nothing in their latest comments or data provides assurance that they understand – or respect – this.

Ultimately, the key surprise is just how big this plant is. Over a 12 month period it will consume 1.2m tonnes of limestone, burn up to 150,000 tonnes of coal, use an undisclosed amount of used oil, and produce up to one million tonnes of cement.

This cement plant is over-sized and out of place, and nothing Holcim or their experts say can disguise that fact. There is a litany of adverse effects associated with this plant that cannot be avoided, mitigated or remedied.


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