Holcim has agreed to slash emissions of ozone-forming pollutants at its Midlothian cement kiln, a move that environmentalists and company officials say could dramatically improve local air quality.
The decision by Holcim settles an administrative challenge by Blue Skies Alliance and Downwinders at Risk. The two clean-air groups challenged a state permit that would allow the kiln to increase emissions.
Instead, Holcim has agreed to a wide-ranging settlement that requires the kiln to operate pollution-control equipment that will cut more than 1000t of ozone-forming emissions, and spend millions of dollars to promote regional ozone-fighting programs. In exchange, the environmental groups will drop their legal challenge.
"It results in a stronger plant, stronger relations with our plant community and actions that should lead to significant environmental benefits for this region," Ruksana Mirza, Holcim’s vice president of environmental affairs, said in a written statement.
The company said cement demand in the US and Canada in the second half of 2005 is projected to be slightly above the strong levels of 2004. It said all three of its divisions have good backlogs, prices in all segments and markets are higher than in the second half of 2004 and its US division has successfully implemented a price increase for cement deliveries. The company said it expects to increase sales and margins in the second half of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004.