CEMEX Inc., which owns and operates a Portland cement-manufacturing facility in Lyons, Colo., has agreed to operate advanced pollution controls on its kiln and pay a $1-million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The settlement was reached on April 19.
“This settlement will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can have serious impacts on respiratory health for communities along Colorado’s Front Range,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Cutting these emissions will also help improve environmental quality and visibility in places like Rocky Mountain National Park.”
The Dept. of Justice, on behalf of the EPA, filed a complaint against CEMEX alleging that between 1997-2000, the company unlawfully made modifications at its Lyons plant that resulted in significant net increases of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions.
The complaint further alleges that these increased emissions violated the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Non-Attainment New Source Review requirements, which state that companies must obtain the necessary permits before making modifications at a facility and install and operate required pollution control equipment if modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.
“This agreement will mean cleaner air for Colorado residents downwind of the CEMEX facility and will contribute to improved air quality in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of our nation’s most cherished public spaces,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement is part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts, along with the EPA, to bring significant sources of air pollution within the cement manufacturing sector into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”
As part of the settlement, CEMEX will install “Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction” (SNCR) technology at its Lyons facility, an advanced pollution-control technology designed to reduce NOx emissions. This will reduce the plant’s NOx emissions by approximately 870 to 1,200 tons of NOx per year. The initial capital cost for installing SNCR is approximately $600,000 and the cost of injecting ammonia into the stack emissions stream, a necessary part of the process, is anticipated to be about $1.5 million per year.
The settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including Portland cement manufacturing facilities.
NOx emissions may cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. These emissions also contribute to acid rain, smog and haze, which impair visibility in national parks. CEMEX’s facility is located within 20 miles of Rocky Mountain National Park, and its emissions may contribute to visibility impairment and to the nitrogen pollution problem that is affecting the park’s vegetation, water quality and trout populations. Air pollution from Portland cement manufacturing facilities can also travel significant distances downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.
The proposed consent decree will be lodged with the Federal District Court for the District of Colorado, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.