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.