December 20, 2014

Elyria
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EPA: Limestone mill dust-up unfounded

LORAIN — The city Zoning Board of Appeals will meet today to discuss whether to allow a Cleveland-based mining company to build a limestone mill along Henderson Drive.

Oglebay Norton will bring 12 to 14 jobs to the city with the new plant and would move into a vacant area east of the Black River, according to city planner Chris Bauer. The company also operates the Cleveland Bulk Terminal in downtown Cleveland, as well as facilities in Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and several other states.

Bauer said one of the zoning board’s likely concerns will be the dust created after grinding the limestone, which will then be shipped by truck around the country.

“They are breaking down rocks, so it’s a concern,” Bauer said. “But the company will also stick to guidelines to ensure that there won’t be a problem.”

The plant was granted a permit through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to emit 119 tons of dust per year, but that is just for the dust that gets scattered onto the plant’s internal roads, EPA spokesman Mike Settles said.

Eastside residents who are afraid that their homes and cars will be covered in dust have been complaining to city officials about the proposed development, but Settles said those concerns are unfounded. While some dust could get outside the plant, it won’t be in harmful or in heavy doses as long as the company complies with EPA guidelines.

“As long as the company complies with the permit, there really shouldn’t be an issue,” said Erik Bewely, environmental specialist with the EPA. “There’s nothing really unusual with what we’re issuing here.”

Companies such as this one are inspected by the EPA at least once a year and the company is required to send in its own reports several times a year. If the EPA receives complaints from residents, they are investigated immediately, Settles said.

Settles said that the plant can wet down the piles of ground limestone that are waiting to be shipped to keep wind from blowing the dust away and can also wash the trucks before they leave the plant. The trucks are enclosed and look similar to cement trucks, Settles said. Bauer said the plant might create traffic problems in the area, but one that the city could correct with a few modifications to the area around Bridge and Henderson drives, which could include a traffic signal at that intersection.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.