Cement Makers' Settlement with EPA Includes $1.3M Penalty
To resolve federal allegations of Clean Air Act violations, two cement companies have agreed to spend about $12 million on pollution-control equipment, and one of the companies also will pay a $1.3-million civil penalty, federal agencies say.
Under the agreement, which the Dept. of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency announced on Dec. 3, Lehigh Cement Co. LLC and Lehigh White Cement Co. LLC will install the equipment at 14 kilns at 11 portland cement plants in eight states.
Lehigh Cement, which owns nine of the plants, will pay the $1.3-million penalty. Half of that total will go to the federal government; the other half will be divided among the seven states and regional or local agencies that have signed the agreement.
In the settlement—spelled out in a consent decree lodged on Dec. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania—the companies deny the allegations and do not admit any liabilities to the federal or nonfederal governments for penalties stemming from the charges.
DOJ and EPA say the actions contained in the settlement will result in annual reductions of 4,555 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 989 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2).
According to EPA, the settlement calls for installing and operating selective non-catalytic reduction systems to control NOx at between eight and 10 of the kilns.
It said the non-catalytic reduction systems are installed at the other four kilns but the company would be required to operate them to meet more stringent emission levels.
To control SO2, the agreement calls on Lehigh to install lime injection systems at five or six kilns.
The companies also agreed to replace old diesel engines in some off-road vehicles at some plants, to further reduce NOx emissions.
The Lehigh Cement plants include three in California, and one each in Alabama, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Lehigh White plants are in Pennsylvania and Texas.
Lehigh Hanson Inc., Lehigh Cement’s parent company, said in a statement that the company and its facilities have been complying with the clean air statute.
It added that “we continue to believe that EPA’s alleged claims against Lehigh are the product of a larger, more than decade-long EPA initiative that bypasses due process and unfairly targets the cement industry.”
Lehigh Hanson also said, “However, this settlement puts an end to what could otherwise be protracted litigation and allows the company to continue operating our plants in a safe and environmentally responsible manner and supplying our customers with quality cement products.”
Lehigh Hanson, which is based in Irving, Texas, is owned by HeidelbergCement, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany.
The settlement is the 12th since 2008 under an EPA enforcement initiative focused on cement kilns’ Clean Air Act compliance. But it is the first federal cement-related consent decree since August 2016.
According to EPA, the cement industry is the third-largest industrial source of air pollution, including SO2, NOx and carbon monoxide.
The new proposed settlement is subject to public comment and approval by the court.