Ash Grove Cement Co has agreed to pay a US$2.5m penalty and invest approximately US$30m in pollution-control technology, the US Department of Justice and US Environmental Protection Agency announced.
The EPA says the agreement, which resolves alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, will eliminate more than 17,000t of pollution from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) each year. In addition, Ash Grove has agreed to spend US$750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its facilities, the release says.
“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert G. Dreher. “The agreement reflects the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to protecting public health and the environment through enforcement of the nation’s Clean Air Act.”
The settlement requires Ash Grove to meet stringent emission limits and install and continuously operate modern technology to reduce NOx, SO2, and particulate matter (PM). Ash Grove is required to reduce NOx emissions at nine kilns, some of which will have the lowest emission limits of any retrofit control system in the country. In addition, modern pollution controls must be installed on every kiln to reduce PM emissions, and on several kilns to reduce SO2 emissions.
At its Texas facility, Ash Grove will shut down two older, inefficient kilns, while a third will be replaced with a cleaner, newly reconstructed kiln, the release says. Ash Grove will also spend US$750,000 on a project to replace old diesel truck engines at its facilities in Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas.
EPA said the settlement is part of a national initiative to control air pollution from the largest sources of emissions. It is the first settlement with a cement manufacturer that requires injunctive relief and emission limits, the release says.
“The agreement with EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy,” said Charles T. Sunderland, Ash Grove Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
The Ash Grove plants included in the agreement are: Inkom, Idaho (currently inactive); Durkee, Ore; Leamington, Utah; Montana City, Mont; Seattle, Wash; Louisville, Neb; Chanute, Kan; Foreman, Ark; and Midlothian, Texas.
The agreement is expected to take effect in July 2013 when the terms of the agreement have completed the required public notice period and are approved by the court. Individual plant compliance dates vary under the agreement.