In a settlement with federal agencies, Ash Grove Cement Co., Overland Park, Kan., has agreed to pay a $2.5-million penalty and spend about $30 million on pollution-control improvements to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations,  U.S. officials have announced.

The company's agreement with the Dept. of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency is the latest settlement in a nationwide EPA enforcement drive to reduce emissions from the largest air-pollution sources, including portland cement manufacturing facilities, according to DOJ.

Under a consent decree lodged on June 19 in federal district court in Kansas, Ash Grove will cut annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 17,000 tons from its nine cement plants. 

The facilities are located in Foreman, Ark.; Inkom, Idaho; Chanute, Kan.; Clancy, Mont.; Louisville, Neb.; Durkee, Ore.; Leamington, Utah; Seattle; and Midlothian, Texas. Ash Grove also has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its facilities.

Michael Hrizuk, Ash Grove senior vice president of manufacturing, said in a statement that the company has complied with all federal regulations at each of its facilities. He said that “this EPA initiative has been quite costly for Ash Grove, and has required a significant amount of time and effort." Hrizuk added, "Rather than continue the debate, we believe that our effort is better spent collaborating on ways to further reduce our environmental footprint, which is the path we chose by signing this agreement.” 

The settlement requires Ash Grove to meet stringent emission limits and install and continuously operate modern technology to trim emissions of NOx, SO2 and particulate matter (PM). 

Under the agreement, Ash Grove is required to reduce NOx emissions at nine kilns, some of which will have the lowest emission limits of any retrofit control system in the country, according to the Justice Dept.  Additionally, modern pollution controls must be installed on every kiln to reduce PM emissions and on several kilns to reduce SO2 emissions.

The agreement is expected to take effect in July, when the the required public-notice period is completed and the court approves the consent decree. Individual plant compliance dates vary under the agreement.