Maine Environmentalists Blast Relaxed Mercury Emissions Rules for Thomaston Cement Plant

Jul 17, 2014

Environmentalists say they're disappointed with a Board of Environmental Protection vote today which relaxes mercury emissions rules for the Dragon Cement plant in Thomaston.

"It's the largest single source of mercury pollution in Maine - by a considerable amount," says Dylan Voorhees, the clean energy director with Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Voorhees says the decision means that Maine's more stringent emissions rules will take a back seat to the more relaxed federal rules, which allow a single source to emit up to 42 pounds of mercury. Maine had steadily lowered its allowable mercury emissions to 25 pounds over the last decade with a series of clean air bills.

"And it takes us in the wrong direction from where Maine has been going to try and reduce mercury," Voorhees says. "So it is a very significant and disappointing decision."

We were unable to reach Dragon Cement by airtime, but the company told the Bangor Daily News that it would only reach that 42 pound level if it runs at full capacity, something it hasn't done in recent memory.

And when when the company requested the change to federal oversight last year, it said it did not expect to start producing any more mercury than usual.

Currently, the company is emitting between 10 and 15 pounds of mercury per year.