Nucor's Air Pollution Permit Recieves Growing Concerns
According to an article from Nola.com, “A public hearing Tuesday on air pollution permits for a $750 million iron-making facility being built in Convent in St. James Parish by Nucor Steel Louisiana is expected to produce fireworks from a neighboring grain elevator operator and environmental groups concerned about the proposed plant's emissions of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases and the lack of time the state provided for the permits to be reviewed by the public.
Nucor plans to build a direct reduced iron manufacturing plant on a small piece of a 4,000-acre tract that the company bought earlier this year from Entergy Corp. for construction of a larger, $3.4 billion pig iron manufacturing complex.
The Department of Environmental Quality hearing is at 6 p.m., at the St. James Parish Courthouse, 5800 Louisiana Highway 44, in Convent.
The DRI plant will produce 2.5 million tons of iron a year by pouring iron-ore pellets and other minerals into the top of a tall furnace structure. A heated gas that contains a mixture of natural gas, carbon monoxide and hydrogen travels up from the bottom of the furnace to mix with the ore.
In a chemical and heat reaction, oxygen is stripped from the ore, resulting in iron flowing out the bottom, where it is formed into chunks ready for shipping upriver to other Nucor mills that use it in making steel.
The plant will employ 150 people at an average salary of $75,000, and Nucor already has issued $600 million in tax-exempt Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds to help pay construction costs for the first DRI unit and later projects at the site.
Gases from the manufacturing process are collected at the top of the furnace and recycled, with some of the heat used to generate electricity. Electricity not used in the manufacturing facility is expected to be sold to power companies.
Air pollutants created by the complex manufacturing process include tiny particles of dust from the handling of the iron ore and the operation of the furnace, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide created in the iron manufacturing process, and a variety of volatile organic compounds, including cancer-causing benzene, according to the company's permit request.
The plant also will emit large quantities of nitrogen oxide, a regulated pollutant that also is a precursor chemical in the formation of ground-level ozone; sulphur dioxide and ammonia.”