A Mexican company that is one of the largest producers of Portland cement in the United States, Cemex will install pollution controls to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, NOx, and sulfur dioxide, SO2, pollutants that can lead to childhood asthma, acid rain, smog and impaired visibility in national parks.
The legal settlement, which is subject to court approval, addresses Cemex modifications to its Xenia cement plant in Fairborn, which were made without obtaining a permit as required by the Clean Air Act.
Major sources of air pollution are required to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant.
Cemex, which prides itself on its environmental excellence, has agreed to install state-of-the-art emission control technologies that will reduce annual emissions of NOx by 2,300 tons and SO2 by 288 tons.
Cemex cement plant (Photo courtesy Cemex)
"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 Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including cement facilities, is one of the U.S. EPA's National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. The initiative focuses on improving compliance with the new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act among industries that have the potential to cause the greatest amounts of air pollution.
"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," said Moreno.
Air pollution from cement plants can travel far downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.
"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.
These effects can have greater impacts on communities exposed to environmental risks and to vulnerable populations such as children.
"Today's settlement will help keep harmful air pollution out of Ohio communities, protect children with asthma and prevent region-wide public health problems," said Giles, announcing the settlement on Thursday.
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.
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 United States.
Cemex owns and operates 14 Portland cement kiln plants in the United States. The company's U.S. headquarters is located in Houston, Texas and its corporate headquarters are in Monterrey, Mexico.
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