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'Significantly' high levels of sulphur dioxide detected in Giles County near lime plant

For at least the past five years, a lime processing plant in Giles County has been emitting levels of sulphur dioxide that exceed the legal limits of air quality by the EPA. The affected areas surround the Lhoist Kimballton plant, located near Ripplemead, which processes lime that’s used to produce steel.

The State Air Pollution Control Board recently added that portion of Giles County to its list of areas that do not attain national air quality standards. However, the facility is still allowed to operate, and in a press release, the DEQ said that they are working with the company and expect to have a final plan for getting the plant into compliance by 2023.

In 2017, the Department of Environmental Quality required the company to install an air quality monitoring station near the plant. In that year, levels of sulphur dioxide were more than double the amount allowed by the EPA. "At that time, ambient values significantly exceeded the SO2 standard, which is set at 75 parts per billion," said DEQ spokesperson Aaron Proctor.

DEQ began working with the plant to reduce its emissions, and levels have decreased, but not enough to be in compliance with the EPA.

In 2020 DEQ sent a letter to the Air Pollution Board, recommending a portion of Giles County surrounding the Kimballton plant to be designated in noncompliance with air quality standards.

The Kimballton plant is operated by Lhoist North America, Inc. based in Fort Worth Texas.

Christopher J. Burr, a spokesperson for Lhoist, declined to be interviewed for this story, but sent an emailed statement saying the company has already made changes to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions and it will work with the DEQ to get their plant in compliance with air quality standards.

Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.