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|Monday, June 01, 2009|
Durkee limestone has an especially high elemental concentration of mercury that accounts for the plant’s higher emissions, says Linda Hayes-Gorman, an air quality specialist at DEQ. The company didn’t realize that when it built the plant in 1978, before mercury was widely considered hazardous. To make things right — and head off the inevitable emissions standards — Ash Grove willingly signed a legally binding agreement with DEQ in February 2008 requiring the plant to reduce emissions by 75% by 2012 or face fines.
“They came to us with the idea,” Hayes-Gorman says. “We were very pleased to work with them and it’s been one of the most satisfying experiences as a regulator to work with a company that voluntarily comes forward to reduce emissions in the absence of a law on the books.”
The company in March started building an activated carbon injection system to control mercury emissions with an expected price tag of between $15 million and $20 million.
Hayes-Gorman says DEQ will likely recommend to the EPA that the standards be more lenient or that the Durkee plant get an exception. Mike Hrizuk, a vice president of manufacturing at Ash Grove, says that complying with the proposed rules would be a challenge and could mean closing the plant, and Hayes-Gorman says it will be “extremely hard” for Ash Grove to comply.
“Ash Grove employs over 100 people at really good wage jobs, and there aren’t a lot of those in Baker County,” says county commissioner Fred Warner. The plant is one of the county’s largest employers, with 116 workers coming mostly from Baker City and Huntington. Warner says the plant is also a major local philanthropist.
But all the goodwill it’s cultivated may not save Ash Grove if the 99% reductions that EPA proposed come into law.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Matt French opens up South Waterfront.
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Will community banks survive the digital age? Three CEOs peer into banking's crystal ball.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Live, Work, Play: Catching up with Chris Johnson.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A conversation with Donna Earley, director of sales and marketing for the Salem Convention Center.
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