National Cement Co. of Alabama, a subsidiary of Vicat, has received a $148,000 fine from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for exceeding mercury emissions over a 123-day period between May 2019 and February 2020 at its Ragland plant, according to local media.
Levels of mercury in the coal and other raw materials burned as fuel were higher than usual, which lead to the increased emissions. Once the plant discovered the issue, the company immediately reported it to the ADEM.
National Cement Co. of Alabama President Spencer Weitman said it took several months to fix the issue. The company has spent $400,000 on upgrades for the Ragland operation, including a mercury absorption carbon injection system. In the ADEM consent order, National Cement also contended it made procedural changes to help fix the issue.
ADEM said in the consent order that “the Department considers the failure to meet emissions limits and maintain records to be serious violations. However, the Department is not aware of any irreparable harm to the environment resulting from these violations.”
Both parties also noted that National Cement had not economically benefited from the emissions violations.
In January, National Cement began construction on a new $250 million kiln line, which is expected to be completed in 2022.