AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- A new metal recycling and smelting plant is coming to Augusta. The German-based company Aurubis, will break ground in South Augusta within a month. But, not everybody is happy about it.

The Savannah Riverkeeper said the plant could emit more than 30 toxins. And she said that could impact the air quality in Augusta – which she said is already bad.

“So when you’re driving into Augusta and you’re coming down the hill and you see that haze…that weird haze specifically when the winds not blowing. That’s particulate matter,” said Tonya Bonitatibus.

Bonitatibus believes Aurubis’s planned smelting and recycling plant would make that problem worse.
She said the amount of that particulate matter coming from the plant would be far too high and add to Augusta’s already bad air pollution problem.

“The American Lung Association was here not too long ago, saying you guys, you got to do a better job,” she explained.

The Economic Authority President says the state E-P-D wouldn’t approve the facility if there was a real danger. He said the economic benefits of having Aurubis in Augusta outweigh the risks.

“That is a commitment from them to invest somewhere between $340 million and $740 million into the Augusta economy.” said Cal Wray. “They have committed to 150 jobs in phase one with more jobs added in each successive phase.”

Wray toured an Aurubis plant in Hamburg and came away impressed with the company’s commitment to environmental safety.

“They’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in environmental control equipment and here in Augusta there’s over $60 million in equipment just to contain any potential pollutants that would go out,” he said.

Bonitatibus is also worried about evaporated toxins from stored chemicals and waste-, called fugitive emissions.

“The fugitive emissions they had listed in that permit require no over sight. There is nothing that says how much of the lead or the mercury from those fugitive emissions there will be. And the state won’t regulate it,” Bonitatibus said.

The Georgia EPD said it’s still drafting the permit, but that Aurubis will be subject to national emission standards.

Aurubis said the company is confident those standards will be met, saying “the goal of this project is to invest in a green, circular economy – reducing the world’s reliance on mined minerals and maximizing the recycling potential of discarded circuit boards, cables, and other materials that currently end up in landfills or are get shipped to countries with much lower environmental standards for recycling purposes.”

The Riverkeeper said she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“Those are pretty words. That’s my response. Those are pretty words.”

The River Keeper encourages folks to do their own research.

Here are a few links with information on the matter.

Savannah River Keeper – includes link to Aurubis’s permit application.

Aurubis

Georgia Environmental Protection Division

Environmental Protection Agency Air Toxin Standards