Cemex Construction Materials Florida LLC has applied to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a short-term trial testing of a list of alternative products the company wants to burn to operate the plant's cement kilns, including plastic agricultural film; agricultural waste, such as animal bedding, citrus peels and rice hulls; carpet-derived fuel; woody biomass; roofing shingles; paper; and tire-derived fuel.

Late last year, the DEP slapped the operation with a $525,000 fine for allowing mercury emissions from the kilns at the plant that exceeded permitted limits by as much as 10 times. Cemex officials say they have made changes in their process and fixed the problem.

Other benefits to the plan, according to the Cemex application, include promoting a more diverse energy supply, using locally generated resources rather than coal, promoting related recycling business activities, which creates jobs, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Brooksville South mill has two kilns with a production capacity of about 2 million tpy. Kiln No. 2 is the focus of the application. Currently, the permit for the kiln allows the use of coal, natural gas, petroleum, coke, propane, fuel oil, other used oil, fly ash and whole tires as fuels.

Althouhg the current application only deals with the short-term trial, Cemex is seeking permission for a 24-month period to conduct feasibility studies of the alternative fuels. If the materials tested are feasible and acceptable to the DEP, Cemex plans to seek a new construction permit to use the materials long term. The application also notes that, if use of any material results in emissions exceeding the current permitted limits, the use will be immediately stopped.

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