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Big River Steel air permit hearing set

Nov 08, 2013 | 05:00 PM |

Tags  steel, Big River Steel, Nucor, air permit, Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK — A hearing on Nucor Corp.’s appeal of Big River Steel LLC’s air permit has been set for the week of Feb. 18, an administrative law judge in Arkansas told AMM.

"The evidentiary portion of the hearing will be conducted the week of Feb. 18. Once I hear all the evidence, I will write a recommended decision that goes in front of the full (Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology) Commission," Charles Moulton, the commission’s administrative law judge, told AMM Nov. 8.

"At that point, the ball’s in their court," he said, noting that the decision will be examined during a March 28 commission meeting, and commissioners will have the option of accepting, or rejecting the recommendation in whole or in part.

Grant Tennille, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said this past week that groundbreaking of Big River Steel’s proposed $1.1-billion steel mill facility will be delayed 120 days due to Nucor’s challenge of the air permit (, Nov. 4).

Moulton has extended that period for an additional 30 days due to the holiday season, he said.

The issue relates to an air permit that Big River Steel received from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in the fall, effectively clearing one of the final hurdles before construction of its steel mill in Mississippi County (, Sept. 23).

However, according to appeals filed with the commission in October, Nucor underscored that there are existing concerns relating to an allegedly confusing permitting process. The Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker also said there are other emissions concerns, particularly due to health risks and the jeopardy of future growth and expansion in the region.

Tennille feels "completely confident that the permit will be upheld," he told AMM Nov. 5.

If approved, Big River Steel’s new mill would produce hot-rolled, cold-rolled, galvanized, and pickled and oil coiled products for the automotive sector, grain- and non-grain-oriented electrical steels for the electrical sector, and substrate for the pipe and tube sector. Big River’s mill would have an annual capacity of 1.7 million tons and the ability to make 76- to 78-inch-wide by 1-inch-thick coils.

Depending on the commission’s decision, either party can appeal to a higher circuit court, Moulton said, noting that this would potentially delay the project further.

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