Cement industry honours 2012 leaders in environmental improvement

Cement industry honours 2012 leaders in environmental improvement
Published: 25 April 2012

Four cement plants received special recognition for their commitment to improving the environment and their communities at the Eleventh Annual Cement Industry Environment and Energy Awards, presented by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Cement Americas magazine at PCA's Spring Meeting in Chicago, 16 April 2012.

The awards honour individual cement facilities that exemplify the spirit of continuous environmental improvement and support this spirit with action. Nineteen cement plants in the United States were nominated for the awards.

"Although it is one of the most highly regulated industry sectors in the United States, cement companies are consistently challenging manufacturing policies and procedures and are on the forefront of new technologies to make their plants more energy efficient and to become better stewards of the land and resources," said Brian McCarthy, PCA president and CEO. "Making a quality product is not enough. These and other cement companies take extra steps to ensure their communities are excellent places to work, live and learn."

Six categories recognised the following plants’ achievements:

1. Overall environmental excellence – Cemex, Louisville, KY
In 2011, the Cemex works engaged in a wide range of innovation, energy efficiency, land stewardship and environmental improvement activities to make the plant a better steward of the environment and the community a better place to live. Modifications to the preheater resulted in improved efficiency and reduced the heat required to preheat raw material. In 2011, the plant earned the prestigious national Wildlife Habitat Council's Wildlife at Work Certification for its on-going wildlife, habitat and environmental stewardship initiatives. In addition, the Louisville facility continues to implement an effective alternative fuels programme and in 2011 utilised nearly 1m whole tyres as kiln fuel for an annual substitution of 10%.

2. Outreach – Titan America LLC/Roanoke Cement Company, Troutville, VA
The environmental strides that Roanoke Cement Company (RCC) achieves are largely community-driven. In 2011, the company's efforts showcased the plant's commitment to several local initiatives, including visits from local cub scouts and high school physics students. For the sixth-consecutive year plant employees participated in creek clean-up activities. Roanoke Cement reached out to neighbours through letters, brochures and meetings to brief them regarding its proposed quarry expansion and on-site mitigation proposal. Scores of residents signed letters in support of the plant's plan, which would improve the Catawba Creek habitat and environment through the planting of open canopy riparian buffers and additional efforts designed to reverse increasing sediment loads and reduce cattle intrusion into the creek.

3. Environmental Performance Award – Holcim (US) Inc, Theodore, AL
In 2011, the Holcim (US) Theodore plant substituted more than 25,000t of traditional fossil fuels with alternative fuels such as used tyres, used oil, used oil absorbent materials from the 2010 BP oil spill, wood chips and plastic by-products. Through its emission monitoring and reporting programme, the Theodore plant voluntarily installed continuous emission monitoring (CEM) units for sulphur dioxides, carbon monoxide, and total hydrocarbons. These CEM units serve an important function for kiln operators and managers by helping to optimise the kiln system and minimise emissions. In 2011, the works targeted further emission reductions through a programme initiative that included installation of a selective non-catalytic reduction system, which has resulted in continuous improvement in nitrogen oxides control when compared to 2010.

4. Land Stewardship – St Marys Cement Inc, (US)/VCNA, Charlevoix, MI
In the past year, the company received permission from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to use residual dump materials and stockpiles of cement kiln dust as feedstock in its kilns. This not only put the plant on a path to rid the landscape of a dump but also reduced its need for virgin materials.

St Marys continued in its partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, operating and maintaining the Medusa Creek Fish Weir. The weir is located on plant property and consists entirely of quarry discharge water. In 2011, nearly 8000 salmon were harvested, up almost 2400 from 2010.

Last year, the plant also entered into an agreement with local municipalities to turn rail lines – formerly used for hauling cement – into community trails that provide local residents a pathway connecting them to Fisherman's Island State Park, which adjoins the St Marys plant as well as connecting Lake Charlevoix with Lake Michigan.

5. Innovation – Cemex, Louisville, KY
To reduce maintenance and the resulting significant downtime, the Cemex Louisville plant replaced the traditional pug mill with a "pug screw," a common material handling screw. Benefits included reduced parts maintenance and usage and increased energy savings. The pug screw installation increased grinding efficiency, reduced the plant's raw feed downtime (yielding an estimated savings of nearly US$196,000 annually) as well as lowering maintenance and parts consumption by approximately 70%. In addition, annual savings of approximately 620,000kW/h or an 80% reduction in power usage was achieved.

6. Energy Efficiency – Cemex, Louisville, KY
The Cemex Louisville team is committed to continuously improving its process through regular and robust assessments of their conditions for identifying improvement areas for energy efficiency. This leadership is repeatedly demonstrated with recognition from the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency awarding Cemex Louisville with Industrial Plant Energy Star Certifications five years in a row, including 2011.