FROSTBURG — Frostburg’s mayor and City Council agreed to sign a letter of support Thursday for SonoAsh Engineered Materials, which plans to locate in the city.
The company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, processes coal ash impounds, turning it into compounds used in green cement, silica flour, proppants, technology metals and cenospheres.
“They have patented intellectual property that they’re looking to bring a center of excellence for their engineering materials relating to re-using stored coal ash in the area to make a green concrete substitute — a green business with some very sustainable benefits,” said City Administrator Elizabeth Stahlman.
Allegany County economic development, Frostburg State University and the state of Maryland, including the governor’s office, have all been enrolled in the project, Stahlman said.
“Lucky for us, they’re very interested in locating at the advanced technology park on FSU’s campus,” she said.
The business would still have to go through the city’s permitting processes, as well as state environmental permitting processes.
Commissioner of Water, Parks and Recreation Nina Forsythe questioned if the company would need to get an air quality permit because one of the byproducts is silica flour.
A 2009 report from the National Toxicology Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that “crystalline silica also is used in foundry work and in glass, ceramic, porcelain, tile and clay production” and “that exposure to crystalline silica via inhalation or the subcutaneous route produced a variety of adverse effects including cutaneous granulomas, progressive systemic sclerosis, chronic silicosis.”
“Based on the technology they described, there would be no smoke stacks or any stacks coming from the building, it’s an indoor process,” said Stahlman. “It’s a contained process.”
Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.