Company files suits to delay Nucor project
The owner of an export grain terminal adjacent to the Nucor steel plant site in St. James Parish has filed suits in federal and state courts seeking to stop construction of the Nucor project until the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality conducts a new review of all permits for the project. Zen-Noh Grain Corp. alleges DEQ has not fulfilled its duty to protect the region's air quality. Friday's filing in the Eastern District of Louisiana says the federal court should order Nucor to stop constructing the project's first phase, a direct reduced iron facility, because Nucor has not obtained a preconstruction permit necessary to prevent a significant deterioration of air quality. The filing in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge asks the state court to stay all the permits for the facility until DEQ issues a unified preconstruction permit that assures the facility will not violate national air quality standards. In a response last month to an earlier petition from Zen-Noh, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson asked DEQ to explain why it failed to combine Nucor's preconstruction permits into a single permit that includes both the DRI facility and the planned pig iron plant, which the state considers two separate projects, although they're both planned to be located at the same site. A statement issued by DEQ today does not mention Zen-Noh's suit directly, but says EPA has not identified any Clean Air Act violations and has not asked for the permits to be modified. However, EPA has asked for more information, which DEQ says it plans to provide. —David Jacobs
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