The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that according to the Union’s research, Giant Cement Holding, Inc. has been fined US$36,000, the largest fine in the recent history of the plant, for repeat violations of the federal and state air laws. The company is scheduled to meet with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) next week about another air enforcement action.
Today, USW Local 216 President David Stepp asked for a meeting with DHEC Commissioner C. Earl Hunter to discuss on-going concerns. In a letter, Stepp wrote, "We want to make sure DHEC holds Giant Cement accountable for every problem that continues to exist at the facility."
Giant was fined for failing to control particulate matter emissions that can pose serious health risks when inhaled and for failing six times to limit emissions to permit levels. Before this, DHEC mostly has levied one-time fines against the company of $10,000 or $13,500 for each air violation, totaling $43,500 in the last three years.
In addition to air violations, Giant Cement had not been in compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which regulates the discharge of pollutants into waters, for at least 10 months.
Giant Cement burns over 100,000t of hazardous waste each year, requiring the company to train workers in emergency response. Members of USW Local 216 will receive training on Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Hazwoper) from OSHA-certified USW instructors from June 12 through 19.
"The union is taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of workers and the surrounding communities. It’s time both the company and DHEC do the same," said Donna Dewitt, President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO.