SELMA, Alabama – An Alabama competitor of Mississippi Silicon Metals LLC has filed a petition to challenge the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit granted for the company’s $200 million “greenfield” plant in Tishomingo County’s Burnsville.
Globe Metallurgical, Inc. (GMI), which employs about 100 people at its silicon metal plant in Selma, filed the petition. GMI is one of North America’s largest producers of silicon metal.
GMI claims the permit issued to MS Silicon would allow the site to emit air pollutants without certain control devices that are standard in the industry and, for some processes, without any air pollution controls at all.
GMI said it believes MS Silicon’s application did not provide complete and accurate information to enable the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to fully evaluate air-quality considerations.
The company further claims MDEQ seems to have been under pressure to process the permit more quickly than a thorough process would allow. In this case, the review process took only three months, GMA notes.
State economic development officials were very eager to see the plant built in the economically depressed tri-state border region of Northeast Mississippi. Their support included $20 million in state incentives.
The new plant is the first to go up in the United States since the mid 1970s. Mississippi Silicon says more efficient manufacturing methods and new trade protection measures have made construction of the plant economically viable.
In filing the appeal, GMI formally requests that the permit be sent back to MDEQ. The company says it wants the agency to further evaluate whether MS Silicon will be installing the latest emission-control equipment, the equipment meets current air-quality standards, and provides complete and accurate information.
Silcon is an alloy used to strengthen such industrial products as aluminum automobile wheels and to make a host of household products, among other uses.
David Tuten, president & CEO of Mississippi Silcon, noted in an interview before the January ground breaking for the plant that by-products from the manufacture of silcon include slag that is sold to steel makers and smoke from the silicon plant’s furnace that is sold to the concrete industry. The silicon fumes are used to strengthen concrete in structures such as high-rise buildings and highway overpasses.
The manufacturing process does not create waste products and “has basically zero water discharge,” Tuten said, and added the Burnsville plant has all required environmental permits, including state and federal air permits.