The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Holcim (US) Inc., the owner and operator of a portland cement manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Md., and its previous owner St. Lawrence Cement Co., have agreed to a settlement that includes a $700,000 civil penalty to resolve Clean Air Act violations.
In addition to the civil penalty, Holcim will spend at least $150,000 on an environmental mitigation project approved to benefit air quality, which will involve replacing an outdated piece of equipment with a newer model that emits lower levels of pollutants.
“This action demonstrates the importance of the Clean Air Act in protecting the air we breathe,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Controlling harmful emissions from cement plants helps ensure that human health and the environment are protected in surrounding communities and downwind from the plants.”
The DOJ, on behalf of EPA, filed a complaint against Holcim and St. Lawrence in April 2011 alleging that between 2003 and 2007, the companies unlawfully made modifications to the Hagerstown cement kiln that resulted in significant net increases of sulfur dioxide emissions without first obtaining the permit required by the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Non-Attainment New Source Review requirements.
This section of the Clean Air Act specifically requires that, if modifications are made to facilities that result in significant net increases in emissions, the operator must perform a pollution analysis and obtain the necessary permit in advance of construction and install any required pollution control equipment.