In a settlement with federal agencies, cement maker Cemex Inc. will pay a $1.7-million civil penalty and spend about $10 million on equipment and systems to reduce air pollution at five of its plants, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency said.

DOJ and EPA on July 27 said the agreement, spelled out in a consent decree filed that day in federal district court in Knoxville, Tenn., resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations.

The document said Cemex denies the federal allegations and does not admit it has any liability to the federal government or Knox County, Tenn., for civil penalties or injunctive relief.

Cemex USA said in a statement that the plants include its facilities in Demopolis, Ala.; Knoxville; and New Braunfels and Odessa, Texas, as well as a Louisville, Ky., plant, owned by its Kosmos Cement Co. affiliate. The federal agencies said all five facilities produce portland cement.

The consent decree outlines the limits the companies are to achieve on emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Cemex, based in Houston, in a July 27 statement said the company and Kosmos Cement voluntarily entered into the agreement with DOJ and the EPA. The company also said the settlement deals with “alleged historical violations” at the five facilities.

Cemex and Kosmos Cement “look forward to closing this matter and moving forward with the programs in place at our facilities that focus on sustainability and have resulted in consistent regulatory compliance and environmental excellence,” Cemex added.

The company also noted that it has five cement plants that are EPA Energy Star-certified and 12 ready-mix facilities that have met the Energy Star Challenge for Industry.

Cemex also said EPA named the company its Energy Star partner of the year in 2009 and 2010.

There will be a 30-day public comment period on the consent decree, which is subject to approval by the court.