Ash Grove Cement Co. has received permission from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to do a test burn of scrap tires at its Louisville cement plant.
The DEQ granted the variance to Overland Park, Kan.-based Ash Grove July 29, and the company has one year from that date to do a 60-day trial burn of scrap tires at its Louisville kilns. The burn should start sometime early in 2005, according to a company spokesman.
During the trial, the DEQ said, Ash Grove must maintain the same emissions limits as in its current environmental permit. Inspectors will conduct extensive monitoring of emissions and operations during the period.
If the burn is successful, Ash Grove will apply for permanent permission to use tire-derived fuel at Louisville, the Ash Grove spokesman said. The permitting process will include a public comment period, he added, and there is no way of knowing when the process might be complete.
This is not the first time Ash Grove has applied to the state of Nebraska to use scrap tires in cement kilns. In May 1997, the Nebraska DEQ said it would allow a 30-day period to solicit public comment on the company's plan to use scrap tires at Louisville.
``However, at the same time, the DEQ gave a grant to EnTire Recycling Inc. to make ground rubber,'' said Michael Blumenthal, senior technical director for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. ``EnTire complained it couldn't get enough tires for its operations if the state allowed Ash Grove to burn tires, so the state withdrew its permission from Ash Grove.''
An 11-day fire at EnTire headquarters in Nebraska City, Neb., in January and February 2002 put the company out of business, Blumenthal said. The company is trying to re-establish operations across the Missouri River in the state of Missouri, he said, which means Ash Grove once again has a shot at using scrap tires at Louisville.
``Ash Grove could use the majority of tires generated in eastern Nebraska, where most of the state's population is centered, and pretty much solve the scrap tire problem there,'' he said. The Ash Grove spokesman said the company could use about 1 million tires annually at Louisville if the permanent permit is granted.
There are 60 kilns at 43 locations in the U.S. using scrap tires as supplemental fuel, Blumenthal said. They burn a total of approximately 53 million tires annually.