Kosmos Cement Co., a subsidiary of Mexican cement giant CEMEX S.A. de C.V., is reviving a 13-year-old plan to burn whole scrap tires in the kilns at its Louisville plant.
The firm is discussing its proposal with local environmentalists and community activists who, though not without concerns regarding the burning of tires, are open to the idea at this point.
According to a CEMEX fact sheet, the Kosmos proposal involves using some 1 million to 1.2 million tires annually in the Louisville kilns. The Kentucky Division of Waste Management, which manages the state's Waste Tire Fund and oversees waste tire abatement programs, estimates that the state generates some 6.5 million scrap tires annually, which means the Kosmos plan, if implemented, would claim about one-fifth to one-sixth of the state's annual scrap tire flow.
As usual in a cement kiln, the waste tires would be consumed completely by the kilns' 2,700°F heat. Tires produce the same amount of energy as oil and 25 percent more than coal, the CEMEX fact sheet said. But even more, a CEMEX spokeswoman said, the steel belts in the tires would provide reinforcement that benefits the end product. The scrap tire plan still is too preliminary to discuss in detail, she said.
In 1993, Kosmos quietly tabled a proposal to burn tires at the Louisville plant after local environmentalists raised objections. The CEMEX spokeswoman said the company is taking the new plan to the community for its comments. The main community group involved is the Southwest Community Association of Neighborhoods, a group that promotes the quality of life in the southwestern sections of Louisville.
SCAN is checking into the Kosmos proposal, according to its president, Diana Newton. ``We feel right now that we should get all the information to the community that we can,'' she said. ``We support the opinion of the neighborhood, either way it might go.''
There is a high cancer rate in the southwestern neighborhoods of Louisville, which makes any new potential source of industrial pollutants a cause for concern, she said. On the other hand, it is SCAN's understanding that the techniques for burning tires as fuel are much more advanced than they were 13 years ago.
Out of more than 80 cement facilities in the U.S., 43 are permitted to burn scrap tires, according to the CEMEX fact sheet. The Kosmos Louisville plant employs about 150 and produces about 1.6 million tons of cement per year.
Kentucky's Waste Tire Fund is paid for by a $1 fee on each new tire sold in the state. The Kentucky Division of Waste Management collects about $2.5 million annually for the fund, and to date has spent more than $16 million on scrap tire cleanup and abatement projects, including grants for the use of tire-derived fuel.
The state's most recent TDF-related grant was $750,000 last July to Wickliffe Paper Co. in Ballard County, Ky., to begin a TDF program.