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Saturday, October 19, 2013
I would like to respond to the Oct. 6 letter to the editor (“An odor most foul”) that appeared in The Roanoke Times expressing concerns regarding odors in the area surrounding Celanese’s facility in Giles County. Celanese takes concerns raised by members of our community very seriously.
Most of our employees live in the area surrounding our plant, and it is very important to us that we have a positive impact on our community.
We have more than 650 employees and 500 contractors working in well-paying and rewarding jobs; and Celanese also contributes significantly to the tax base of Giles County.
From an environmental standpoint, we have reduced emissions of organic compounds by more than 40 percent in the last 10 years.
Approximately half of the emissions from our manufacturing processes are of acetic acid, the material found in regular household vinegar. In addition to systems that control and monitor emissions within permitted limits, we routinely monitor for the possibility of unusual odors and respond to minimize odor impact on the community. In an effort to further reduce our environmental impact, we are currently replacing our existing coal boilers with state-of-the-art, gas-fired boilers at a cost of more than $150 million. When the last of these boilers is operational in 2015, there will be a 90 percent reduction in acid gas emissions from boiler operations, approximately a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and elimination of fly ash sent for disposal from the site. We have also maintained a record of continued improvement in environmental excellence while increasing production from our plant.
The Celanese Narrows site has been cited by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality twice in the past five years. However, these citations were for failure to monitor emissions and failure of a monitoring device. The citations were not for emissions in excess of environmental permit limits. Furthermore, we have had no history of excess emissions in the areas in which monitoring failures occurred. We have responded to these issues by investing in redundant instrumentation and hiring additional resources to support our monitoring programs to ensure that these failures do not reoccur.
Our facility in Narrows is one of the most heavily regulated industrial sites in Virginia. We accept this responsibility and will continue to be a good neighbor within our community, just as we have for the past 74 years.
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