RESIDENTS fear that emissions from a cement plant at Waurn Ponds could be a health threat, according to a community spokesperson.

Geelong Sustainability Group spokesperson Monica Winston said “airborne toxic waste” from Blue Circle Cement’s use of alternative fuel HiCal40 could affect residents of Waurn Ponds, Grovedale and Belmont.

Alcoa cancelled plans to trial the fuel at the company’s electricity generator near Anglesea amid community concerns it would lead to unacceptable levels of airborne fluoride.

“Businesses need to be more responsible and show some concern for the effect their practices have on the community’s health and the environment,” Ms Winston said.

“Belmont has the highest population of children out of any suburb in Geelong and these kids are being exposed to fluoride emissions from the burning of this chemical.

“We don’t know how bad breathing it in might be and it may not show up for another 10 or 20 years.”

But Blue Circle Southern Cement rejected the concerns, saying the plant had burnt HiCal40 fuel for 10 years with the blessing of Environment Protection Authority.

Cement plant operations manager Peter Richardson said the fuel had “extremely low” fluoride emissions.

Using Hi-Cal4 was also cheaper than powering the cement plant with natural gas, he said.

“The cement and aluminium industries in Geelong are now more sustainable as a result of turning a waste into a resource, taking waste out of landfill and conserving Victoria’s reserve of natural gas.”