Cement Producers’ Settle Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

Lehigh Cement Co. and Lehigh White Cement Co. have agreed to invest approximately $12 million in pollution control technology at 11 portland cement manufacturing plants in eight states to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice. The settlement will reduce more than 4,555 tons of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 989 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution annually.

“This settlement with Lehigh and Lehigh White will significantly reduce harmful air emissions at their cement plants nationwide,” said Bruce Gelber, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement is a product of the federal government’s close work with state and local agencies who all share the goal of improving air quality in their regions in compliance with state and federal laws.”

Under the settlement, the companies will install and operate equipment to control NOx and meet emission limits that are consistent with controls at comparable cement kilns across the country. The settlement also requires the cement producers to operate existing pollution controls at four kilns to meet tightened emission limits. For controlling SO2, Lehigh will install and operate pollution control equipment at five or six kilns and will meet low SO2 emission limits at all kilns.

Lehigh has agreed to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from its facilities by replacing old diesel truck engines at its facilities in Union Bridge, Md., and Mason City, Iowa, at an estimated cost of $650,000, which is expected to reduce smog-forming NOx by 25 tpy. Lehigh will also pay a civil penalty of $1.3 million to resolve Clean Air Act violations.

The settlement is the 12th settlement to address harmful air pollution from portland cement manufacturing facilities. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, two key pollutants emitted from cement plants, can harm human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air into fine particles that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit communities located near the Lehigh plants, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.

The Lehigh cement plants covered by the settlement are located in Leeds, Ala.; Cupertino, Redding, and Tehachapi, Calif.; Mason City, Iowa; Mitchell, Ind.; Union Bridge, Md.; Glens Falls, N.Y., and Fleetwood, Pa. Lehigh White’s facilities are located in York, Pa., and Woodway, Texas.

Seven state and state or regional agencies have joined the United States in the settlement, consisting of Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, New York, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Jefferson County Board of Health (Alabama), and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (California).

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