Hernando County's environmental advisers say that Florida Crushed Stone Co. should not be allowed to burn whole tires as fuel in the company's cement kilns.
The recommendation, from the Tallahassee law firm of Oertel, Hoffman, Fernandez & Cole, comes after a lengthy review of the results of a weeklong test burn of tires in November.
The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday is expected to consider the recommendation and decide whether to continue protesting the issuance of a state tire-burning permit to Florida Crushed Stone.
The two main problems with the test burn, according to the report, were increased and widely fluctuating amounts of carbon monoxide released, and burn conditions that did not give a realistic idea of how much nitrogen oxide would be released during normal conditions.
"It does not appear that it has been demonstrated that the cement kiln can comply with the permitted emission rate for nitrogen oxide under standard operating conditions," according to the report, which was turned over to the county late Thursday.
The question of whether the company can burn tires in its kilns has been an issue for about two years, and the company says it has grown tired of trying to please the environmental consultants.
"That's a statement that they're making based on conclusions reached from their limited knowledge," said Tom Mountain, the environmental manager for Florida Crushed Stone.
He said the consultant for Oertel, Hoffman who monitored the tests, J.P. Subramani, was aware of the conditions before the burn and had approved them.
"It's sort of off the wall for him to come up and say that at the last minute. We at FCS have been doing our best to teach Subramani about the cement business, which he knows nothing about," Mountain said.
Florida Crushed Stone first asked to burn whole tires and shredded tires in its kilns about two years ago. There was a round of tests for whole and shredded tires in the fall of 1990. Those tests satisfied the state Department of Environmental Regulations, which was prepared to grant permission in September to burn the tires.
The county objected on the advice of Subramani, and requested that a permit issuance be postponed and sought further testing of whole and shredded tires.
The test results in the fall of shredded tires showed levels of nitrogen dioxide actually were reduced. But the Oertel, Hoffman analysis of whole tires also could apply to shredded tires. Because the whole tire burn was for a week and the shredded tire burn was only for a day, it was considered to reflect more accurately the emissions that any tire would produce.
The report said although Florida Crushed Stone's plant northwest of Brooksville usually produces lime, power and cement, only cement was being produced during the test.
In normal conditions, the report said, the temperatures would have been higher, which would increase levels of nitrogen oxide.
Nitrogen oxide can contribute to the formation of ozone, which in the lower atmosphere can contribute to respiratory problems.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, and the report said emissions of it increased during the whole tire test burn and fluctuated widely.
Mountain said fluctuations are normal in the operation of a cement kiln, and that the maximum amount of carbon monoxide released was still relatively small.
Representatives of the county's environmental consultants did not return phone calls from a reporter on Friday. County Administrator Chuck Hetrick and county commissioners said they had not had a chance to study the report and did not want to comment.