Cement plant work continues

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Despite an economic downturn, a Mexico-based company continues to develop a $400 million cement production project in northern Arizona, about 15 miles northwest of Seligman.

CEMEX officials are collecting weather and pollution dispersion data as required for an air pollution control permit application under review by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

No permit decision is expected before early 2010 but environmentalists are concerned that annual plant emissions in excess of 100 tons of pollutants and particulate matter will harm the nearby Colorado River, Grand Canyon and Hualapai Indian Tribe.

"We're just following it and we've made it really clear to them that because they're so close to the Grand Canyon and the Hualapai Tribe, that they've got to do better than what you would do somewhere else," said Jack Ehrhardt, a planner for the tribe who also has extensive involvement in both the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust.

About 700 jobs are envisioned over a 30-month construction period that could begin in 2010. As many as 120 people would be employed by the plant.