CEMEX to Pay $1 Million in Civil Penalties for Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

Cement manufacturer agrees to reduce harmful air emissions at Colorado plant.

April 19, 2013
CDR Staff
Legislation & Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced that CEMEX Inc., the owner and operator of a Portland cement manufacturing facility in Lyons, Colo., has agreed to install and operate advanced pollution controls on its cement kiln and pay a $1 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

“Today’s settlement will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can have serious impacts on respiratory health for communities along Colorado’s Front Range,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in a statement. “Cutting these emissions will also help improve environmental quality and visibility in places like Rocky Mountain National Park.”

“This agreement will mean cleaner air for Colorado residents downwind of the CEMEX facility and will contribute to improved air quality in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which is one of our nation’s most cherished public spaces,” says Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement is part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts, along with the EPA, to bring significant sources of air pollution within the cement manufacturing sector into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”

The DOJ, on behalf of the EPA, filed a complaint against CEMEX alleging that between 1997 and 2000 the company unlawfully made modifications at its Lyons plant that resulted in significant net increases of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions. The complaint alleges that the increased emissions violated the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Non-Attainment New Source Review requirements, which state that companies must obtain the necessary permits prior to making modifications at a facility and install and operate required pollution control equipment if modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.

As part of the settlement, CEMEX will install “Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction” (SNCR) technology at its Lyons facility, which is an advanced pollution control technology designed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. This will reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions by about 870 to 1,200 tons of nitrogen oxide per year. The initial capital cost for installing SNCR is around $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.

The settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including Portland cement manufacturing facilities.

The proposed consent decree will be lodged with the Federal District Court for the District of Colorado, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.

More information about the settlement can be found at www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/cases/cemex-lyons.html.