US Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester today announced that the agency has reached an agreement with Lafarge Midwest over allowable mercury levels from the company’s Alpena site. In the proposed agreement, Lafarge will cap mercury emissions at 567 pounds per year until January 1, 2010, or completion of permitted modifications to its kilns, whichever comes first. Following that, the company will substantially reduce its emissions to a cap of 390 pounds of mercury per year.
"We are pleased to reach an agreement with Lafarge that will both protect human health and the environment and allow the company to prosper economically," said Director Chester. "The interim limit gives the company time to expand their operations, while at the same time making improvements at their facility to significantly reduce mercury being emitted to the environment."
The agreement will bring to closure a lawsuit filed by the company against the DEQ for establishing mercury emission restrictions in its air use permit issued in June 2005. The permit authorized an expansion of the cement manufacturing facility but also, for the first time, established a mercury limit based upon Lafarge’s projected emissions after the expansion, as well as the level of emissions believed to be protective of public health and the environment.
In the proposed consent order, Lafarge has agreed to the restrictions on its emissions of mercury into the environment, and will conduct scheduled interim and final emissions testing to verify compliance with those limits to ensure that the company is meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act and Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.