Polluting California Cement Plant Installs Cleaner Kiln
LOS ANGELES, California, March 6, 2008 (ENS) - A cement plant that is one of the largest sources of smog-forming nitrogen oxides in California will replace polluting equipment with a state of the art kiln to reduce these emissions.

Under the terms of a $394,000 settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the TXI Riverside Cement Company reached Wednesday, the company will replace seven 50-year old short dry kilns at its Oro Grande plant, located near Victorville.

By August 2008, Riverside Cement will begin operation of a single new kiln, constructed at a cost of at least $385 million. This improvement will remove 1,500 tons annually of nitrogen oxide emissions, according to the EPA.

"We welcome any effort that reduces nitrogen oxides and ozone as a step towards healthier air," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA’s Air Division in its Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. "Through enforcement, technological breakthroughs and corporate involvement, we will help communities get the clean air they deserve."

The $394,000 penalty resolves various federal Clean Air Act violations, including:

A baghouse is a generic name for air pollution control equipment designed around the use of engineered fabric filter tubes, envelopes or cartridges in the dust capturing, separation or filtering process.

TXI Riverside Cement plant at Oro Grande, California (Photo credit unknown)

Under the terms of the settlement, between now and August the Riverside Cement Company must comply with enhanced requirements for inspection and monitoring of baghouse effectiveness.

This settlement is subject to a 30 day public comment period and final court approval.

According to the California Air Resources Board, the Oro Grande facility is one of the largest sources of nitrogen oxide emissions in the state.

Nitrogen oxide is one of the components of ground-level ozone, or smog, which causes health and environmental impacts. Breathing smog can worsen respiratory illness, including emphysema and asthma. The EPA says repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.

TXI Riverside Cement celebrated its 100th anniversary on August 23, 2006. After years of various owners, Riverside Cement was most recently purchased by TXI in 1998. Completion of the 2.2-million-ton plant expansion and modernization at Oro Grande will mark the company's 102nd year.

The company says the Oro Grande plant modernization has been in the works for two years. Frank Sheets, spokesperson for TXI, told the "Victorville Daily Press" in February that the last time TXI made any major renovations was in the early 1960s. The new facility, he said, will be state of the art and make less of an impact on the environment.

"Production will go up and efficiency will go up a lot," Sheets said, adding that the company anticipates dramatic reductions in the amount of energy consumed per ton of product of produced.

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