SJEJA Project: St. Lawrence Cement Co.

Public Hearing on St. Lawrence Cement Permit

There was a public hearing on Tuesday June 26, 2007 at Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority Auditorium (CCMUA) at 7 p.m  (Ferry Ave near corner of South 4th Street, Camden) on proposed modifications to the St. Lawrence Cement permit. SLC proposes to expand throughput of slag processing from 785,000 metric tons per year to 1,051,200 metric tons per year, increasing storage capacity (bigger slag piles and new silos), and increasing the height of its stack. SLC is a significant source of fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions in the area, and Waterfront South is already an overly burdened community. People voiced concerns at the hearing and submit written comments.

>>> Read Olga Pomar’s Final Comments to the DEP (July 7, 07) on the proposed St. Lawrence Cement Permit

Judge rejects lawsuit over cement plant

(Camden Courier-Post, 4/5/06) By EILEEN STILWELL

CAMDEN. A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed five years ago by South Camden residents charging the state Department of Environmental Protection with environmental racism for granting air quality permits to St. Lawrence Cement Co.

Olga Pomar of South Jersey Community Legal Services filed the suit on behalf of the neighborhood group South Camden Citizens in Action.

Residents accused the DEP of intentional discrimination because it granted an air-quality permit to a company in an area that already included the county sewage treatment plant, a trash-to-steam operation, rail lines, and a steady stream of trucks ferrying materials to and from the Camden port.

Pomar said it was too soon to predict if the group would appeal the decision by U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson.

“I’m not surprised by the decision, though we thought there was enough evidence to, at least, be granted a trial,” Pomar said. “Unfortunately, it shows how hard it is to protect people against the discriminatory burden of air pollution through the courts.”

In a prepared statement, Brian Montag, an attorney for St. Lawrence, said the decision highlights the integrity of the state’s permitting process and assures the business community that “bogus” health claims will be dismissed.

“The decision sent the message that this type of case is better served in a political forum as opposed to a legal forum. In other words, when the plaintiffs claimed that they were being discriminated against, they should have addressed the issues with their representatives, not the courts,” Montag said.

The St. Lawrence Cement Group, a publicly traded company with 3,200 employees, is the world’s largest cement maker. It is headquartered in Montreal.

The Camden plant grinds slag imported from Italy into a cement substitute under the trade name GranCem. Lula Williams, president of South Camden Citizens in Action, says:

“We didn’t lose,” said Lula Williams, president of South Camden Citizens in Action. “We got the DEP to take notice of this part of town and to create an action plan to monitor all industries around here to a higher standard . . . If we hadn’t sued, they would have paid us no mind.”

If no appeal is filed, the residents’ bitter five-year siege to shut St. Lawrence down appears to be over.

Last week St. Lawrence agreed to pay about $650,000 to settle two suits in state court brought by residents who claimed the company’s presence caused them to suffer from allergies and other respiratory ailments.

“We are pleased that the Camden litigation has now been successfully resolved,” said Michael Davis, senior vice president of St. Lawrence’s U.S. division. “Our company has made an important and long-term investment in Camden and we look forward to continuing our ongoing community outreach activities while being an important economic contributor for many years

Firms settle air quality suit (Courier Post, March 9, 2006)
CAMDEN. St. Lawrence Cement and a coalition of South Jersey industries have agreed to pay a total of approximately $650,000 to former residents of a neighborhood near the cement company’s plant. >>> READ FULL STORY