If the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issues Owens Corning a proposed draft air permit, the Newark plant could reduce overall hazardous air pollutants by 80 percent.

If the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issues Owens Corning a proposed draft air permit, the Newark plant could reduce overall hazardous air pollutants by 80 percent.

The draft permit would enable the Owens Corning plant at 400 Case Ave. to alter the binding material used in one of its fiberglass-manufacturing lines. Specifically, the production line would use a non-phenolic binder instead of the phenol-formaldehyde-based binder.

Jason Sragian, spokesperson for Owens Corning, said the company has been looking at new ways to make insulation, including the addition of plant-based ingredients. The company is especially concerned with its environmental footprint, he said.

"We're continually looking for ways to reduce that," Sragian said.

Even if the permit is passed, Sragian said, the switchover wouldn't be immediate. A portion of the plant would produce the newer product. It could take up to a few years until the entire plant would be converted, he said.

According to the Ohio EPA press release, "The draft air permit establishes emission limitations, installation regulations and operational restrictions."

Owens Corning had contacted the Ohio EPA about the proposed modification, according to Ohio EPA spokesperson Erin Strouse. If approved, the permit substantially would reduce the amount of certain chemicals.

"It's going to be more environmentally sound," Strouse said.

She said formaldehyde would be reduced by nearly 42 tons per year - from 47.1 tons to 4.27 tons per year. Similarly, the output of phenol would drop from 50 tons per year to 2.7 tons, and methanol output would drop from 45 tons per year to 20.1 tons.

Two new chemicals would be added, however. Strouse said an output of formic acid at a rate of 2.6 tons per year would occur, as would an output of 2.07 tons of diethanolamine per year.

The EPA will hold a public meeting about the proposed draft air permit at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the main campus of the Licking County Library, 101 W. Main St. in Newark. Those interested also may submit written comments until Sept. 1 to Adam Novak, Ohio EPA - CDO, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, 43216-1049. The draft air permit can be reviewed at the Ohio EPA's central district office by calling (614) 728-3778.