Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in mid-December that CalPortland Company (CPC) has agreed to pay a $1.425 million penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its cement plant in Mojave, Calif. In addition to the penalty, CPC will spend an estimated $1.3 million on pollution controls that will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. The $1.425 million penalty is one of the largest settlements for a single cement facility.

“This settlement will bring state-of-the-art controls to a major source of air pollution and secures significant reductions in harmful pollutants,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The Mojave plant is one of the largest emitters of nitrogen oxide pollution in California. As a result of the Clean Air Act compliance requirements in the consent decree, residents in the surrounding region will enjoy cleaner and healthier air.

The government’s complaint alleges that CPC made significant modifications to its plant, resulting in increased emissions of NOx, SO2 and CO, without first obtaining a Clean Air Act-required permit or installing necessary pollution control equipment. 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, according to regulations

The settlement ensures that the proper equipment, estimated to cost $1.3 million to install and $500,000 per year to operate, will be installed to reduce future emission levels. These measures are expected to reduce pollution each year from the plant by at least 1,200 tons of NOx and 360 tons of SO2.

Since 2005, EPA has been focusing on improving compliance with the new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act among industries that have the potential to cause significant amounts of air pollution, including the cement manufacturing industry.

EPA is continuing its commitment to reducing air pollution from cement plants by making it one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013, and initiative the cement industry is fighting against.

The proposed consent decree was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website. More information on the settlement can be found at EPA's website.

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