Elected officials on Friday hailed efforts by Lafarge North America to cut harmful emissions and improve energy efficiency by rebuilding the 52-year-old cement plant it operates here.
They had gathered for a groundbreaking that marks the beginning of construction of the new plant, estimated to cost “in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to officials. Economic impact locally is expected to total $163 million, said Assemblyman Pete Lopez.
New technology at the plant will cut emissions of sulfur oxides by 95 percent, nitrogen oxides by 60 percent, fine particulate matter by 37 percent, and mercury by 66 percent, said Gene Kelly, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Lafarge serves as a model of what American industry should be doing,” Kelly said.
The project will preserve the jobs of 110 to 115 people who work here, and create 800 to 1,000 construction jobs over the next two years, said John Stull, Lafarge U.S. president and CEO.
The Ravena plant supplies customers from Boston to western New York and from the Canadian border to New York City, he said.
The modernization is slated for completion June 30, 2016. The project was originally slated to be done in 2015, but Lafarge received an extension from state regulators to operate the existing plant in exchange for greater pollution cuts.
The plant supplied the state Thruway widening project in Albany County and the construction of the GlobalFoundries plant in Malta. It also supplied the Freedom Tower project and World Trade Center Memorial, and will supply the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.
Lafarge is being acquired by Zurich-based Holcim in a deal that will create a company with annual sales of $44 billion and operations in 90 countries.
Stull said Friday the merger wouldn't affect Lafarge's commitment to modernize and operate the Ravena plant. While the market outlook is good, Stull said, the plant wasn't spared the effects of the 2008 recession. Employment now is about half what it was before the recession began.