Essroc Cement Company Settlement
(Washington, DC - December 29, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Essroc Cement Company has agreed to pay a $1.7 million penalty and invest approximately $33 million in pollution control technology to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at six of its Portland Cement manufacturing plants. The settlement will protect Americans' health by reducing more than 7,000 tons of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution each year that can lead to childhood asthma, acid rain, and smog. Essroc has also agreed to spend $745,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from its facilities.
On this page:
- Overview of Company and Location
- Injunctive Relief
- Pollutant Reductions
- Health and Environmental Benefits
- Civil Penalty
- Cement Manufacturing Enforcement Initiative
- Comment Period
Overview of Company and Location
Essroc is a leading cement producer with over 6.5 million metric tons of annual capacity. It is the 8th largest cement producer in the United States. Essroc provides a variety of cement and cement related products including cement for concrete, cement for masonry, colored masonry, chemical admixtures, and ready mix. Essroc's headquarters is located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. This settlement covers Essroc's six cement plants and nine cement kilns in:
- Bessemer, Penn.
- Martinsburg, W. V.
- Nazareth, Penn.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Logansport, Ind.
- Speed, Ind.
In January 2009, EPA issued a Notice of Violation to Essroc alleging that Essroc modified its Bessemer plant without first complying with Clean Air Act (CAA) pre-construction obligations that include obtaining pre-construction permits and installing and operating state-of-the-art pollution control technology.
- CAA Prevention of Significant Deterioration/Nonattainment New Source Review provisions, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492, §§7501-7515; and Title V of the CAA)
The consent decree secures injunctive relief from all of Essroc's cement plants. Upon full implementation, the total cost of the core injunctive relief package is estimated by the Company to be $33 million.
The settlement includes:
- Permanent retirement of the two kilns at the Bessemer plant
- Installation and continuous operation of new Dry Scrubber/Lime Injection systems at seven kilns
- Installation and continuous operation of selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) at five kilns
- Demonstration of selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) at the two long wet kilns at the Logansport plant
This settlement will reduce emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx) approximately 5,000 tons and sulfur dioxides (SO2) approximately 2,000 tons.
The reductions will help to reduce the formation of ozone and fine particulates in the local communities surrounding the Essroc plants.
Health and Environmental Benefits
The pollutants reduced under this settlement have numerous adverse environmental and health effects. Sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides can be converted to fine particulate matter once in the air. Fine particulates can be breathed in and lodged deep in the lungs, leading to a variety of health problems and even premature death. Other health and environmental impacts from the pollutants addressed in this settlement include the following:
- Sulfur Dioxide - High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.
- Particulate Matter - Short term exposure to particulate matter can aggravate lung disease, cause asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, may increase susceptibility to respiratory infections and has been linked to heart attacks.
- Nitrogen Oxides - Nitrogen oxides can cause ground-level ozone, acid rain, particulate matter, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Nitrogen oxides play a major role, with volatile organic chemicals, in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone. Children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are susceptible to adverse effects such as damage to lung tissue and reduction in lung function.
Environmental Mitigation Projects
This settlement also requires Essroc to spend $745,000 in mitigation dollars to replace old engines in several off-road vehicles at its plant sites. The replacement engines are estimated to achieve approximately a 50-80 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides at each engine.
Essroc will pay a total of $1.7 million in civil penalties.
Cement Manufacturing Enforcement Initiative
See EPA's Cement Manufacturing Enforcement Initiative website for more information.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.
For more information, contact:
Ms. Seema Kakade
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20460