All's well for Brush Wellman

ELMORE If Elmore residents have concerns about Brush Wellman's new beryllium processing facili
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010



If Elmore residents have concerns about Brush Wellman’s new beryllium processing facility, they didn’t voice them Thursday night.

The Environmental Protection Agency hosted a public hearing on a draft of the company’s pollution control permit at Woodmore High School.

About 15 people attended, but only one spoke out against the issue.

“I would hope that the EPA take into consideration that there is another site for this facility in Utah that is not on a major waterway,” said Bernadette Eriksen, an Oak Harbor resident.

Jan Tredway of the Division of Air Pollution Control took questions after a short presentation on the steps Brush Wellman is taking to limit emissions from the new $90.4 million facility.

Tredway said the facility would have scrubbers and absorbers to capture air emissions from the furnace and material handling operations to reduce the amount of soot released into the air. The federal government requires that air emissions do not exceed .01 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter.

Beryllium is a lightweight metal used in the manufacturing of aerospace equipment, X-ray technology and nuclear applications.

Brush Wellman vice-president Keith Smith, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the company has historically produced fewer pollutants than federal standards allow. He also said the company has taken great lengths to ensure the new facility has “top of the line” ventilation systems.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a state-of-the-art facility.”

The plant will be used to convert beryllium hydroxide into pure beryllium, which will be further refined at other parts of the Elmore plant. Smith said the operations will create about 25 new jobs.

 EPA officials asked residents for feedback in preparing a draft of the permit.

Oak Harbor resident Gene Novack asked the EPA to include a clause about testing for air quality in Oak Harbor in addition to Elmore.

Smith said the company already tests at nine locations within several miles of the plant, but he agreed to consider Novack’s suggestion.

Dina Pierce, an EPA spokeswoman, said the agency typically draws 15 to 50 people at public hearings. She said the agency doesn’t view attendance as an indication of public approval or disapproval.

“A lot of people choose not to speak, but they send in comments instead,” Pierce said.

Residents may send their comments on air quality issues to the EPA through July 31, when the agency plans to make its final decision.