Alabama company challenges permit for Mississippi Silicon

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An Alabama company has filed a petition with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality over the agency’s fast-tracking of a permit for Mississippi Silicon, the company that announced last month it was building a plant in Tishomingo County and adding 200 jobs.

The plant, in Burnsville, will make silicon metal for a variety of industries. Site work is underway, and construction of the plant should take 18-24 months.

Globe Metallurgical Inc., which employs about 100 people at its silicon metal plant in Selma, Ala., filed a petition for a formal hearing before the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board, challenging PSD Permit No. 2640-00060.

The permit was issued by MDEQ to Mississippi Silicon for the construction of the plant, which will use coal, wood chips and quartz as raw materials.

The state is providing $21.5 million for building construction and workforce training, as well as a $3.5 million loan to Tishomingo County for infrastructure improvements.

GMI is one of North America’s largest producers of silicon metal and said it is “intimately familiar with air pollution sources and environmental controls in the industry.”

According to GMI, the permit issued to Mississippi Silicon would allow the site to emit air pollutants without certain control devices that are standard in the industry “and, for some processes, without any air pollution controls at all.”

GMI’s petition said it doubts Mississippi Silicon’s application provided complete and accurate information to let MDEQ evaluate air-quality considerations.

“In addition, MDEQ seems to have been under pressure to process the permit more quickly than a thorough process would allow. In this case, the review process took only three months,” the company said.

GMI is requesting that the permit be sent back to MDEQ “so that the agency can ensure that Mississippi Silicon installs the latest emission-control equipment, meets current air-quality standards, and provides complete and accurate information so that the agency can properly review the facts and re-consider whether a permit should be issued.”

MDEQ received a request from an out of state competitor of Mississippi Silicon LLC the evening of Feb. 12 for a formal evidentiary hearing before the Permit Board to review the permit issued to Mississippi Silicon, LLC.

“The permit meets the requirements of our laws and regulations and protects the public and the environment,” said Trudy Fisher, MDEQ executive director. “We stand behind that work of our experienced, knowledgeable staff and our process. This is an unfortunate misuse of the administrative process by an out-of-state competitor under the guise of raising environmental concerns.”