The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced today that Cemex, one of the largest producers of Portland cement in the United States, has agreed to pay a $1.4 million penalty for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio. In addition to the penalty, Cemex will spend an estimated $2 million on pollution controls that will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), pollutants that can lead to childhood asthma, acid rain, and smog.
“Emissions of harmful pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can lead to a number of serious health and environmental problems, including premature death and heart disease,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement will help keep harmful air pollution out of Ohio communities, protect children with asthma and prevent region-wide public health problems.”
“Through this action, the United States and Ohio will secure reductions of harmful emissions by requiring that Cemex adopt state-of-the-art technology and take immediate steps to control pollutants,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “As in the case of other Portland cement plants that have agreed to come into compliance with the Clean Air Act, the Cemex plant has been a major source of air pollution, and this settlement will result in a healthier environment for residents of Fairborn, Ohio and the surrounding region.”
The settlement addresses modifications Cemex made to its cement plant without obtaining the proper permit, as required by the Clean Air Act. Major sources of air pollution are required to obtain permits which require the installation of pollution control technology before making changes that would significantly increase air emissions. Today’s settlement ensures that the proper pollution control equipment will be installed to reduce future emission levels.
Cemex will install state of the art control technologies that will reduce annual emissions of NOx by approximately 2,300 tons and SO2 by approximately 288 tons. Air pollution from cement plants can travel significant distances downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems. These effects can have greater impacts on communities disproportionately exposed to environmental risks and to vulnerable populations, including children.
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including cement facilities, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. The initiative continues EPA’s focus on improving compliance with the new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act among industries that have the potential to cause significant amounts of air pollution. In fiscal year 2010, EPA’s enforcement actions in the cement manufacturing, coal-fired power plant, glass and acid sectors led to approximately 370 million pounds of pollution reduced or treated, $1.4 billion in estimated pollution controls and $14 million in civil penalties.
Cemex, a global building materials company provides cement and concrete products to construction projects in every sector: industrial, commercial, residential and municipal, with more than 100 aggregate quarries and hundreds of ready-mix concrete plants in the U.S. Cemex is one of the largest producers of cement in the United States, owning and operating 14 Portland cement kiln plants. Its U.S. headquarters is located in Houston.
In January 2009, Cemex agreed to reduce emissions and pay $2 million fine to settle Clean Air Act violations at another one of its cement plants, located in Victorville, Calif.
The $1.4 million penalty will be distributed between the United States, the state of Ohio and the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency serving Ohio’s Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Preble counties. The state will contribute 20 percent of its share of the settlement to Ohio EPA’s Clean Diesel School Bus Program Fund.
The proposed consent decree lodged with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.
More information on today’s settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/cemexfairborn.h…