Ash Grove Cement Company has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty and invest approximately $30 million in pollution control technology at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, announced the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The company says the action will further Ash Grove's efforts to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide from its cement plant at Louisville, Neb., as well as plants in Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas.
“The agreement with 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, chairman and chief executive officer.
Michael J. Hrizuk, senior vice president of manufacturing, said the settlement is similar to agreements the EPA has reached with five other Portland cement manufacturers over the past five years.
Hrizuk said Ash Grove contends that it complied with the Clean Air Act.
“Rather than continue the debate, we believe that our effort is better spent collaborating on ways to further reduce our environmental footprint, which is the path we chose by signing this agreement,” Hrizuk said.
The U.S. Attorney General's office calls the settlement a benefit to the health of communities across the nation.
"Today's settlement will reduce air pollution that can harm human health and contribute to acid rain, haze, and smog," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "The new stringent limits on emissions will lead to less pollution and better air quality for communities across the country," she said.
In addition, Ash Grove has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its facilities.
The settlement requires Ash Grove to meet stringent emission limits and install and continuously operate modern technology to reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide at nine kilns.