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EPA Offers ‘Flexibility’ on Cement Rule

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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Bowing to a federal-court ruling and industry pressure, the Environmental Protection Agency will offer more implementation time and other “compliance flexibilities” to its 2010 air standards for the Portland cement manufacturing industry.

 Portland Cement Association

 Portland Cement Association

Kilns would still be required to continuously monitor particulate matter emissions.

In amendments to the rule proposed June 22, the EPA said it would extend the rule’s compliance date for existing cement kilns from September 2013 to September 2015.

Monitoring, Limit Changes

The proposed amendments, issued under a settlement agreement with the cement industry, would:

• Adjust the way cement kilns continuously monitor particulate matter (PM) emissions;

• Adjust certain emissions limits; and

• Extend the compliance deadline for existing kilns.

The extra compliance time would “allow the cement industry to reassess its emission control strategies in light of the proposed changes to the PM limits and monitoring methods,” EPA said in a statement.
The proposal would retain several key air toxics emission limits in the 2010 rules, including limits for mercury, hydrochloric acid and total hydrocarbons.

 Wikimedia Commons / KVDP

 Wikimedia Commons / KVDP

Manufacturers of Portland cement would have until September 2015 to comply with the new rules.

“These limits will dramatically cut emissions of these harmful pollutants from cement production,” EPA said.

Kiln Standards

The proposal applies to two rules the agency issued in August 2010: air toxics standards for new and existing cement kilns, and new source performance standards (NSPS) for new kilns.

“Based on new technical information, EPA is proposing to make changes to the methods for particulate matter (PM), along with changes to the PM emission limits that would be necessary with the monitoring change,” EPA said.

The proposal would adjust the way cement kilns continuously monitor for particle pollution and would set new particle pollution emissions limits and averaging times to account for these changes.

The proposal would also:

• Revise the so-called open clinker pile standards from the 2010 final rule by allowing facilities to choose from a list of work practices to control fugitive emissions; and

• Change the alternative emission limit for organic air toxics. Kilns may meet this limit in lieu of meeting a limit for total hydrocarbons.

Court Order, Petitions

The new proposals respond to both industry petitions for reconsideration and a December 2011 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals. That court “determined that EPA’s standards were legally sound, but asked the agency to account for rules finalized after the cement standards were issued,” EPA said.

EPA said the amendments would save the industry money.

The proposed rule would not apply to kilns that burn non-hazardous solid waste; those kilns would be covered by other standards.

Emissions Targeted

Portland cement manufacturing is an energy-intensive process that grinds and heats a mixture of raw materials such as limestone, clay, sand and iron ore in a rotary kiln. That product, called clinker, is cooled, ground and then mixed with a small amount of gypsum to produce cement.

Various pollutants are emitted from the burning of fuels and heating of raw materials. Emissions also can occur from grinding, cooling and materials-handling steps in the manufacturing process.

Most major construction projects in the United States involve Portland cement. U.S. cement production is widely dispersed, with 113 cement plants in 36 states as of 2008, according to the Portland Cement Association. The top five companies collectively operate 54.4% of U.S. clinker capacity.

In 2008, the U.S. consumed 93.6 million metric tons of Portland cement—a 15.2% decrease from 2007 attributed to declines in construction spending.

Most cement shipments are sent to ready-mix concrete operators. The rest are shipped to manufacturers of concrete-related products, contractors, materials dealers, oil well/mining/drilling companies, as well as government entities.

EPA is now accepting comment on the proposal and will hold a public hearing if requested to do so. The agency will finalize the rule by Dec. 20, 2012.


Tagged categories: Cement; Certifications and standards; Concrete; Construction; Emissions; EPA

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