Lehigh, Argos to Pay $1.5M Air Pollution Fine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Lehigh Cement Co. and Argos USA have settled alleged Clean Air Act violations at a portland cement manufacturing facility in Martinsburg, W.Va.

In an administrative consent agreement, Argos (the current plant owner) and Lehigh (the successor to prior plant owner Essroc Cement Corp.), have agreed to pay a $1,505,309 penalty related to alleged violations of the plant’s Clean Air Act operating permit and federal restrictions on hazardous air pollutants from portland cement plants. 

“This settlement demonstrates that EPA will hold accountable companies that fail to comply with operating permits that set forth requirements for protecting public health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Communities have a right to be protected from hazardous air pollutants, and EPA continues to ensure those protections.”   

The violations occurred from 2013 through 2016, spanning a change in the facility’s corporate ownership. From 2009 until June 30, 2016, the facility was owned and operated by Essroc. On July 1, 2016, Lehigh’s parent company HeidelbergCement AG acquired Essroc’s parent company Italcementi S.p.A. Argos acquired the facility on Dec. 1, 2016. EPA cited the companies for various Clean Air Act violations based on responses to EPA information requests and data collected and reported under the plant’s permit. 

The alleged violations include:

  • Exceeding annual emission limits for total suspended particulates and fine particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter.
  • Non-compliance with opacity testing, monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping requirements and exceeding opacity limits.
  • Failing to comply with requirements for operating a kiln that is subject to dioxin/furan emission limits.
  • Failing to perform required stack testing on the kiln’s exhaust in a timely manner to determine compliance with emission limits for total suspended particulates, fine particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.
  • Having prohibited visible emissions from manufacturing-related storage structures.
  • Failing to install, operate and maintain continuous emission monitoring for hydrochloric acid in a timely manner.

While Lehigh and Argos were cooperative in negotiating the administrative consent agreement, neither party, as part of the settlement, admitted liability for the alleged violations.

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