In the first six months of the £25 million project, £11 million is being spent on improvements and maintenance to enable the plant in Lancashire's Ribble Valley to meet and exceed new dust emission regulations.
This is the biggest capital investment programme since the 1990s and includes a £2 million replacement of the filters on two cement grinding plants. Plant manager Terry Reynolds said: "The permitted dust level is being reduced by 66 per cent in April, from 30 milligrams per square metre to 10 – the new grinding plants will perform much better than this, running well below the new maximum after the installation."
At £6.5 million, the replacement of the wet gas scrubber – the house-sized unit that removes sulphur and odour from kiln gases – is the largest investment. Ribblesdale was the first UK cement plant to use "gas scrubbing" technology in 1998 and replacement of the scrubber will remove the just-struck-match smell and the sulphur that comes from the alternative raw materials used.
While the three-month scrubber installation starts in March, 75 metres of ducting has already been replaced as part of a five-year improvement plan for the site's exhaust gas handling system. Environment manager Nick Sharpe said: "The ducts dated back to the 1980s so needed to be replaced. They range in in size from three to five metres in diameter and the new lengths prevent fugitive emissions leaks and improve overall efficiency since cold air is not sucked into the process, so there's a double benefit."
Hanson UK is a leading supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry. Its Ribblesdale site employs 116 people and is supplied by two on-site quarries worked by an 11-man team and a team of contractors managing the loading and hauling of quarry materials. The factory has produced cement for projects including Manchester International Airport, Heysham nuclear power station, Manchester United football stadium, Liverpool's Roman Catholic cathedral and also for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.