INDIAN LAND -- After a series of complaints from neighbors, state inspectors are looking into whether a cement plant violated standards in its construction permit.
For more than four months, a half-dozen homeowners who live near the Blue Dot Readi-Mix plant have complained about noise and dust coming from the site. They say the plant's operation in Perimeter 521 Commerce Park has caused nuisances.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control inspected the plant twice in September and October, finding both times the operation violated its permit, according to DHEC reports.
An Oct. 4 report specifies the plant violated its construction permit for "failure to ensure all areas of the plant were adequately wet to prevent fugitive dust, and failure to capture and control emissions from the truck loading process."
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County officials were scheduled to meet this week with Blue Dot President Paul Cochrane, but the meeting was postponed.
Cochrane declined to comment.
Inspector to study dust
Within about 10 days, a DHEC case manager will determine whether Blue Dot will be issued a Notice of Alleged Violations. Such a notice sets up a conference with DHEC and the business to discuss potential violations.
Nancy Whittle, the community liaison for DHEC's Office of Environmental Quality Control, said DHEC also is hiring an environmental epidemiologist to look into the contents of the dust created by the cement factory.
"We want someone with a health background to look and see if there is a health impact," Whittle said.
Another issue is noise.
DHEC does not regulate sound from factories such as Blue Dot. But on Monday night, the Lancaster County Council voted to hire a professional sound engineer to monitor Blue Dot for potential violations of the county's noise ordinance.
Officials have monitored the noise levels at Blue Dot, but not as early as 3 a.m., when residents claim the plant sometimes starts operating.