Displaying items by tag: pollution
India: The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) of Odisha has issued a show cause notice to UltraTech Cement plants at Arda village, Kirmira, for violating pollution norms and asked the company to respond within 15 days as to why action should not be taken against it.
Residents of the areas surrounding the Ultratech plant have complained that white dust released by the plant is causing health hazard. Regional Officer of SPCB, Mukesh Mahalinga, said that the show cause notice was issued after an SPCB team inspected the plant and its surrounding areas on 5 – 10 December 2013. He said that if the company management fails to submit a satisfactory explanation for the non-functioning of an dust metre in the plant, action will be taken against it.
China: The city of Beijing will ban the construction of new oil refining, steel, cement and thermal power plants as well as the expansion of existing projects, in accordance with the government's latest policy document aimed at tackling air pollution.
The ban will take effect from March 2014. The policy document, which was approved by local legislature in mid-January 2014, also commits China's capital city to cut total emissions of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 by 5% in 2014.
Beijing was hit by weeks of hazardous smog in January 2013, prompting the central government to pledge tough new measures to improve air quality throughout the country and head off public disquiet about the environmental costs of economic growth.
US: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry groups including cement producers have failed to settle a permit dispute that is testing whether the agency has the authority to require operators of hazardous waste combustion units to conduct risk assessments that can be used to strengthen emissions limits for mercury and other pollutants when renewing the facilities' existing waste and air permits. Negotiations stalled during a meeting in November 2013 between EPA lawyers and cement kiln operators at EPA's Region V offices, according to an 8 January 2014 status report the parties filed with the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). Litigation will continue on 20 February 2014.
The case began on 8 July 2013 when ESSROC Cement petitioned the EAB to review Region V's decision requiring a site-specific risk assessments (SSRA) at ESSROC's hazardous waste combustor facility in Logansport, Indiana, during the 2012 renewal of the facility's RCRA permit. After the facility conducted the SSRA, Region V imposed a restrictive annual mercury feed rate limit, which ESSROC said, "goes far beyond what is necessary to protect human health and the environment."
The case marks a new test for the risk assessment requirements EPA attached to its 2005 regulations governing hazardous waste combustion facilities that emit air pollutants, including cement kilns. The 2005 regulations set strict new maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the combustion facilities that burn the hazardous waste. The rule also integrated the MACT standards with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements so that facilities must comply with the MACT standards to be eligible for RCRA permits.
China: China has released a plan to cap coal consumption to below 65% of its total primary energy use by 2017 in order to tackle air pollution.
"The pressure to curb air pollution is rising amid China's industrialisation and urbanisation and increasing consumption of energy and resources," said the government plan. The plan follows widespread public awareness of air pollution since levels of particulate matter smaller than 2.5μm (PM2.5) recorded in Beijing broke World Health Organization safety limits in January 2013.
According to a plan published on the country's national website, new industrial projects in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in north China, the Yangtze Delta region in the east and the Pearl River Delta region in the south will be banned from building their own captive power plants. These regions will also be encouraged to replace coal use with power purchased from other areas or with power generated from natural gas or non-fossil fuels such as nuclear power. The plans follows previous measures to phase outdate industrial capacity.
However environmental activists and analysts quoted by Reuters have pointed out that the system could be undermined by loopholes such as allowing areas to import energy from elsewhere.
China: Taiheiyo Cement Corp. has been ordered by the Chinese city of Nanjing to close a local production facility by the end of 2014 according to The Nikkei. Closing the Nanjing plant would reduce Taiheiyo Cement's Chinese cement output capacity by 30 - 40%.
Nanjing cited air pollution as the reason and issued the same mandate to local cement manufacturers as well. It has not said whether or not there will be any compensation. The Japanese firm has said that it will ask the city to reconsider. If Taiheiyo Cement does not follow the order, the local partner with which it has a joint venture will likely be punished, with those in charge to be dismissed from the company.
US: Lafarge North America has agreed with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Justice and New York State to provide US$1.5m towards projects to reduce air pollution in the community surrounding its Ravena cement plant. The agreement also grants Lafarge additional time, until 1 July 2016, to reduce air pollution from the cement plant.
"This agreement will reduce the pollution limits required by the settlement at this facility by providing a significant amount of funding for projects that will improve local air quality," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A Enck.
A March 2010 settlement between the federal government and Lafarge North America over violations of the Clean Air Act required that the cement producer either install controls on two kilns at its Ravena plant or replace those kilns with a lower emitting kiln by 1 January 2015. In return for the deadline extension, Lafarge has committed to interim air pollution limits at the existing kilns intended to result in the same or higher reductions as would have been required by the original agreement in addition to funding local air pollution reduction measures.
US: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined Ash Grove Cement US$2.5m and is forcing the American cement producer to invest US$30m in pollution controls at its plants in nine US states that are alleged to have violated the Clean Air Act.
The EPA and the US Department of Justice announced the penalty jointly on 19 June 2013. The EPA said that the action would reduce thousands of tonnes of harmful pollutants at plants in Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas. In addition Ash Grove Cement will spend US$750,000 towards mitigating the effects of past excess emissions.
Ash Grove acknowledged the agreement in a statement and said that it is striving to comply with environmental regulations at all its facilities. It disputes that it violated the Clean Air Act, saying it opted to enter this agreement with federal regulators rather than face rising costs in time and financial resources that would have accompanied further discussions with the EPA.
"The agreement with the EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy," said Charles T Sunderland, the company's chairman and chief executive officer.
The EPA said that its agreement with Ash Grove Cement, lodged on 19 June 2013 in the US District Court for the District of Kansas, is the first settlement with a cement producer that also requires injunctive relief and emission limits for particulate matter, a combination of combustion gasses and fine dust. There is a 30-day public comment period before final court approval.
The US$2.5m penalty will be distributed to eight states and one agency that took part in the agreement: Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Ash Grove will also spend US$750,000 on a project to replace old diesel truck engines at its facilities in Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas, estimated to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides by approximately 27t/yr.
China: 17 cement companies have been found to regularly violate environmental protection laws by illegally discharging airborne pollutants, according to a report led by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPEA). The report, conducted by the IPEA with several independent institutes and environmental non-government agencies (NGO), also accused the companies of failing to disclose environmental information as required.
The 17 cement companies have about 170 recorded environmental violations between them. Violations listed in the records include the lack of denitrification facilities, faulty monitoring appliances and excessive emissions.
"The State Council recently released 10 measures to control airborne pollution and achieve energy and emissions reductions. The extremely energy-intensive cement, steel and thermal energy production industries, especially those leading listed companies, need to share the heavy responsibility of reducing emissions and not disappoint the public," said Ma Jun, director of the IPEA.
The cement industry is among the six most heavily polluting industries that were required by the Environmental Protection Ministry to meet international emission limits from March 2013. Dust emissions from the cement industry accounted for about 30% of total industrial emissions in 2009.
"We found that this industry has shocking problems with dust and waste gas emissions. The cement industry's violations have deeply harmed the living environment and health of those who live near the factories," said Fang Yingjun from environmental NGO Green Jiangnan.
The environmental NGOs said that they have contacted the 17 listed companies to inform them of the aforementioned pollution problems, but most of the alleged offenders took an evasive stance.
US: Lehigh Northeast Cement has been fined US$50,000 by the state of New York for pollution violations relating to historic cement manufacturing at the company's plant in Cementon, also known as Smith's Landing in the state of New York. The site is currently a cement grinding plant.
In assessing the fine, the Department for Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed to suspend US$10,000 from the total if Lehigh submits clean up and repair plans in the summer of 2013. In 2008, Lehigh was fined US$50,000 for similar problems with cement waste leaking through groundwater into the river from two other sites nearby. The company did not meet all clean-up goals set at that time.
Under a settlement with DEC signed on 8 April 2013 by DEC Regional Director Gene Kelly, Lehigh agreed to submit plans to clean up the sites and halt future leaks. The company also agreed to start using 'low-mercury' water treatment chemicals in its wastewater treatment system and also to begin checking its wastewater for acidity and lead levels.
In return, the company will have additional time to reach river pollution limits set in a DEC pollution permit issued in June 2011. Lehigh had initially contested those limits, but agreed under the settlement to drop its objections.
Lehigh said that historically some of the leaky sites had been capped, while others had not been using 'then-approved or accepted procedures.' The company added that it was working 'to contain and treat the leachate, under guidance and approval from DEC,' including installation of collection basins, and a pump-and-treat system to lower acidity of water before it reaches the river.
US: Cemex has agreed to pay a US$1m fine and to install controls to decrease its emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) at its Lyons cement plant in Colorado to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had accused Cemex of illegally modifying its Lyons plant in a way that increased the amount of NOx the facility released.
"Today's settlement will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can have serious impacts on respiratory health for communities along Colorado's Front Range," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. She added that this could improve visibility at the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.
The US Department of Justice, on behalf of the EPA, filed a complaint against Cemex alleging that between 1997 and 2000 the company unlawfully made modifications at its Lyons plant that resulted in significant net increases of NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The complaint further alleges that these increased emissions violated the CAA's Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Non-Attainment New Source Review requirements, which state that companies must obtain the necessary permits prior to making modifications at a facility and install and operate required pollution control equipment if modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.
As part of the settlement, Cemex will install 'Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction' (SNCR) technology at its Lyons facility, which is an advanced pollution control technology designed to reduce NOx emissions. This will reduce its NOx emissions by approximately 870 to 1200t/yr. The initial capital cost for installing SNCR technology is approximately US$600,000 and the cost of injecting ammonia into the stack emissions stream, a necessary part of the process, is anticipated to be about US$1.5m/yr.