Canadian Manufacturing

NS residents concerned over dusty cement plant emissions

Sudden plant shutdown resulted in a discharge of dust that drifted over neighbourhoods and coated cars

September 20, 2020  The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — Some people who were near a Nova Scotia cement plant say they’re concerned about a shower of sticky, white dust from the factory that landed on properties and vehicles.

Jason Sorflaten, a Halifax resident who was visiting his parents’ home in Brookfield, NS, says he witnessed a hazy cloud coming from the Lafarge cement plant Sept. 12.

Sorflaten, who is an auto detailer, says a film formed on his Volvo through the night, and he’s been unable to wash it off.

“There was weird whitish dust all over the car,” he said in an interview on Sept. 19.

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“I’ve tried washing the car. I work at a detailing shop, and it’s not coming off. I’ll have to start scrubbing, and to get it off, it’s going to scratch the paint.”

His mother, Lydia Sorflaten, said a number of people in her Brookfield neighbourhood complained to the Environment Department because “a heavy, gritty, granular film was deposited over the weekend, and it pebbled and stuck to the cars.”

Robert Cumming, a spokesman for the company, said in an email there was an incident on Sept. 12 evening in the main plant control system, which resulted in a sudden shutdown of the entire plant.

He says the suddenness of the outage meant that there was “a short, unpreventable discharge of dust which, when combined with local wind conditions, resulted in some visible dust on some of our neighbours’ homes.”

Cumming says the incident was reported, and the company is working directly with the Nova Scotia Environment Department and residents “to address concerns.”

The spokesman said the emission wasn’t related to the factory’s burning of scrap tires.

Barbara MacLean, an Environment Department spokeswoman, confirmed there was an incident “which may have resulted in the release of cement kiln dust on some neighbouring properties.”

She said the company reported it to the department, “and complied with the requirements of their approval in dealing with the issue.” She said Lafarge has offered to clean the affected properties.

The company received approval from the province in 2018 to burn tires as fuel, despite opposition from some local residents.

Under the terms of its approval, it is required to monitor air quality at regular intervals when the kiln is operating and monitor groundwater and surface water in the area.