The cases brought under the cement kiln enforcement initiative typically involve allegations that a company violated provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by unlawfully making modifications at a plant that resulted in significant net increases in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) or particulate matter. Representative examples include the following cases that were resolved in 2013:
In United States v. Ash Grove Cement Co., Ash Grove agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty and invest approximately $30 million in pollution control technology at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants to resolve alleged violations of the CAA. The agreement, which was approved by the district court in Kansas, will reduce annual emissions of SO2 and NOx by more than 17,000 tons each year. The plants covered by the agreement are located in the states of Arkansas; Idaho; Kansas; Montana; Nebraska; Oregon; Utah; Washington; and Texas. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and all of the states with Ash Grove plants, with the exception of Texas, joined the United States in the settlement.
The settlement requires Ash Grove to meet stringent emission limits and install and continuously operate modern technology to reduce SO2, NOx, and PM. Ash Grove will reduce NOx at nine kilns, some of which will have the lowest emission limits applicable to a retrofitted 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, and replace a third with a cleaner, newly reconstructed kiln.
To mitigate the effects of past excess emissions, Ash Grove will spend $750,000 on a project to replace old diesel truck engines at its facilities in Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas. The project is estimated to reduce smog-forming NOx by approximately 27 tons per year.
- The United States alleged in United States v. Holcim (US), Inc., that Holcim modified a cement plant in Hagerstown, Maryland, without obtaining the required permit or installing the required pollution control equipment. Under the settlement, the company agreed to meet strict emission limits by installing one of two kinds of advanced pollution controls (estimated to cost approximately $20 or $85 million, respectively), or retire the kiln. To mitigate past emissions, Holcim will spend $150,000 to replace a device powered by an old engine with modern equipment. Finally, Holcim paid a $700,000 civil penalty.
- In United States v. CEMEX, Inc., CEMEX, the owner and operator of a Portland cement manufacturing facility in Lyons, Colorado, agreed to operate advanced pollution controls on its kiln and pay a $1 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations that it was releasing pollutants to the air, including NOx, SO2 and carbon monoxide, without required permits setting emission limits under the CAA. The company will install “selective non-catalytic reduction” (SNCR) technology, which is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by approximately 870 to 1,200 tons per year. The initial capital cost for installing SNCR is approximately $600,000 and the cost of injecting ammonia into the stack emissions stream, a necessary part of the process, is anticipated to be about $1.5 million per year.