A leading U.S. cement producer will spend $1.7 million in fines, $33 million in pollution control upgrades, and $745,000 in mitigation measures to settle emissions violations at six of its plants, under a new federal settlement.
The settlement with Essroc Cement Co., based in Nazareth, PA, will eliminate more than 7,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution each year in the communities around the plants, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice.
|Essroc, the nation’s eighth-largest cement producer, would retire one plant and upgrade five others under the terms of the settlement.|
Essroc is the eighth-largest cement producer in the United States, with more than 6.5 million metric tons of annual capacity.
Settlement: 1 Closure, 5 Upgrades
The settlement agreement, announced Dec. 29, covers Essroc’s six cement plants and nine cement kilns in:
• Bessemer, PA;
• Nazareth, PA;
• Martinsburg, WV;
• Logansport, IN;
• Speed, IN; and
• San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Under the settlement, Essroc will:
• Retire its already-idle plant in Bessemer, PA;
• Install new pollution control technology to control SO2 and NOx at the other five plants; and
• Demonstrate a selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) system at two long wet kilns in its plant in Logansport, IN.
The SCR would be the first used on long wet kilns anywhere in the world.
The settlement also requires Essroc to spend $745,000 on a mitigation project to replace old engines in several off-road vehicles at its plant sites. The new engines would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 50 percent to 80 percent, EPA said.
Essroc did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The settlement measures “will achieve substantial reductions in harmful air pollution and result in cleaner, healthier air for many people across the country,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general.
“This will bring Essroc into compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act and marks significant progress in addressing the nation’s largest sources of air pollution, and protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially children and the elderly, from respiratory and other health problems.”
Cement Plant Pollution Targeted
Reducing air pollution from cement plants is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013.
Just two weeks before the Essroc settlement, EPA and the Justice Department announced a $2.7 million settlement with CalPortland Co. to resolve clean air violations at its California plant.
And earlier last year, the agencies announced a $3.4 million settlement—their second settlement in two years—with Cemex, one of the world’s largest cement producers.
‘Numerous’ Health Risks Cited
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides “have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze,” according to the EPA.
“The pollutants are converted in the air into fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.”
The states of Indiana and West Virginia, and the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico are also signatories to the consent decree, which was filed Dec. 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.