Illinois Cement Plant Agrees to Reduce Emissions

Two companies that own and operate a Portland cement manufacturing facility near Dixon, Ill., have agreed to install state-of-the-art pollution controls to reduce harmful air emissions and pay an $800,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Sept. 8.

St. Marys Cement Inc., (U.S.) and St. Barbara Cement Inc., have agreed to have specified pollution control equipment in operation by April 30, 2009, and from that date on to achieve required emission reductions at three of their four cement production lines at their Dixon facility. The two companies also agreed to replace a kiln with technology to reduce emissions or to permanently shut it down. These actions will reduce combined emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 2,700 tons each year.

This is the first settlement secured by the federal government as part of its enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from Portland cement manufacturing facilities under the Clean Air Act's New Source Review requirements. The Portland cement industry is the third largest source of industrial emissions in the nation, emitting more than 500,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, NOx and carbon monoxide.

"This settlement marks a significant step in controlling harmful nitrogen oxide emissions at the Dixon Plant, and from Portland cement manufacturing facilities in general," said Cheryl Newton, acting director of the Air and Radiation Division of the EPA's Region 5 Office in Chicago. "The installation of state-of-the-art technology sets an important benchmark for the control of this harmful pollutant."

In a complaint filed on Sept. 8, concurrently with the lodging of the consent decree, the federal government alleged that the companies illegally operated four cement kilns at the Dixon Plant after they had been modified. These modifications allowed the kilns to emit more pollution. Specifically, the government cited the companies for operating the modified kilns without obtaining necessary permits and installing required pollution control equipment.

Air pollution from Portland cement manufacturing facilities can travel significant distances downwind, crossing state lines, and creating region-wide health problems.

The proposed consent decree was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.

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