Hazardous burning plan snuffed

  With years of citizen opposition and a zoning ordinance looming over them, a cement company has announced it no longer wants a permit to burn hazardous waste in its Montana City cement kiln.

Local environmental groups that fought the project say it's been a long, hard fight. "They have been absolute hard-core corporate bulldogs about ramming this project down the throats of local citizens," says Paul Johnson, of the local activist organization Montanans for a Healthy Future. Johnson says the kiln's pollution-control device is "a piece of junk" and already poses a health hazard because it emits dangerous particulates.

The Ash Grove Cement Company's environmental manager, Joe Scheeler, says the firm is backing out because of the laborious permitting process, the scarcity of "quality" hazardous materials to burn, and an impending county ordinance that would prohibit waste-burning within two miles of an elementary school. Although Ash Grove has not yet officially withdrawn its application, Scheeler says the paperwork is just a formality and the company's plans remain firm.

*Diane Kelly

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