Lehigh Permanente cement plant announced June 23 that it has installed equipment to reduce mercury emissions by 25 per cent.
The move is in preparation for new federal emission standards that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce by August 3. The standards, which will set the nation’s first limits on mercury emissions from existing cement plant kilns, could require some facilities to cut mercury emissions by more than 80 per cent by August 2013.
Lehigh officials are unsure now just how much further its plant will have to curb emissions. Tim Matz, director of environmental affairs for Lehigh, said the company is certain, however, that the 25 percent reduction will not address all of the EPA’s forthcoming rules.
Matz, who is also member of the Portland Cement Association, a group that meets regularly with the EPA to discuss the new standards, said three years is the absolute maximum amount of time the EPA could give cement producers to comply with the new standards.
Lehigh’s new system takes mercury, a natural component of cement production, and binds it with limestone particles, essentially trapping the mercury inside the finished cement product rather than emitting it into the air. The system was tested and installed over the last few months.