Dragon seeks increase in allowed mercury emissions
Thomaston — Dragon Products has petitioned the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for a change in its mercury emissions limit to allow more emissions, according to a memo sent to Rockland City Councilors.
Dragon, which operates the cement plant in Thomaston, wants to use the federal limit of 42 pounds per year rather than the state limit of 25 pounds per year.
"Dragon's current permit is for 35 pounds/year," the memo states. "It is my understanding that dragon would only be at the 42 pounds per year of mercury emissions if the plant was to run at full capacity."
Dragon Plant Manager Ray Degrass and Environmental Manager Michael Martunas said Feb. 18 that if the plant had to go by the state standard, it would "curtail production dramatically." Degrass said that would keep the plant operating at recession levels.
He argued the state's limit on emissions would not prevent a cement company from out of state selling to customers in Maine, filling a demand Dragon would not be able to due to the limits.
"Dragon is seeking support from government at all levels to allow the facility to operate under one, federally issued mercury standard," a document provided by Dragon to the city states.
It notes that in 2008, the Maine Legislature reduced the mercury emission limit from 35 pounds per year to 25 pounds per year, but allowed plants to apply for an alternative limit. Companies had to submit a mercury reduction plan to DEP and perform emissions testing.
By 2013, companies were required to develop a second mercury reduction plan, incorporating the results of the four mercury emission tests, and submit the updated plan to DEP, the document states.
"Dragon met all of the testing and reporting requirements. On March 3, 2013, DEP submitted a Mercury Reduction Report to the ENR Committee. The Department's Report discussed Dragon's research and mercury emissions studies in detail, and ultimately recommended Dragon's limit align with the newly promulgated federal emission limit for mercury.
"...EPA's new rule also requires the installation of a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS) for mercury emissions. Under the new federal emission standards, Dragon's mercury emission limit, at maximum theoretical production, is 42 pounds per year."
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.