U.S. Files Major Settlements with Portland Cement, Container Glass Plants
The United States on Thursday filed two major Clean Air Act settlements to reduce air emissions from container glass and Portland cement plants throughout the country. The settlements cover 15 U.S. plants owned by Saint-Gobain Containers Inc., the nation's second-largest container glass manufacturer, and all 13 U.S. plants owned by the Lafarge Company and two subsidiaries, the nation's second-largest manufacturer of Portland cement.
The Department of Justice said these settlements are the first system-wide settlements for these sectors under the Clean Air Act and require pollution control upgrades, acceptance of enforceable emission limits, and payment of civil penalties. DOJ estimates that the facilities will reduce a combined 41,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM) each year. SO2, NOx, and PM can trigger respiratory difficulties and asthma, and environmental harms such as acid rain, visibility impairments, and water-quality impacts, the department noted.
"These two settlements are excellent examples of businesses working with government to achieve compliance at their facilities around the country, which will benefit the health of local communities and the environment," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Enforcing the Clean Air Act's new source review program is a priority, not just in the coal-fired power plant industry, but also in industries like cement and glass manufacturing that have been identified as major sources of air pollution. Companies in these industries should strongly consider the benefits of these types of settlements as we intend to aggressively enforce compliance with the law."
In its consent decree filed Jan. 21 in Seattle, Saint-Gobain Containers of Muncie, Ind., agreed to install pollution control equipment at an estimated cost of $112 million to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2, and PM by approximately 6,000 tons each year. The settlement covers 15 plants in 13 states. Two of the 15 plants have been closed by Saint-Gobain for independent business reasons.
DOJ noted that this is the federal government's first nationwide Clean Air Act settlement with a glass manufacturer that covers all of a company's plants. The states of Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, joined in the settlement.
In addition, as part of the settlement, Saint-Gobain has agreed to pay a $2.25 million civil penalty to resolve its alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review regulations. Of that $2.25 million, the company will pay $1.15 million to the United States and $1.1 million to the 10 states and two local regulatory agencies that joined the case.
The settlement covers the following 15 facilities located in the following cities: Burlington, Wis. (two furnaces); Carteret, N.J. (one furnace) (closed); Dolton, Ill. (three furnaces); Dunkirk, Ind. (two furnaces); Henderson, N.C. (two furnaces); Lincoln, Ill. (one furnace); Madera, Calif. (one furnace); Milford, Mass. (two furnaces); Pevely, Mo. (two furnaces); Port Allegany, Pa.(three furnaces) (one closed); Ruston, La. (two furnaces); Sapulpa, Okla.(three furnaces); Seattle (four furnaces); Waxahachie, Texas (one furnace) (closed); and Wilson, N.C. (two furnaces).
Saint-Gobain has agreed to implement pollution controls, including the installation of the first-ever selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system at a U.S. container glass plant. The company also will install continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) at all of its glass plants.
In a complaint filed concurrently with Thursday's settlement, the federal government and the 10 state and two local governments alleged that the company constructed new glass furnaces or modified existing ones over the course of two decades without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The alleged violations were discovered after an EPA investigation that included inspections, file reviews, information requests, and the review and analysis of data obtained from the company. The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant increase in emissions of any pollutant.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
Lafarge North America
Lafarge North America, based in Herndon, Va., and two of its subsidiaries agreed in its consent decree filed in federal court in Benton, Ill., to install and implement control technologies at an expected cost of up to $170 million to reduce emissions of NOx by more than 9,000 tons each year and SO2 by more than 26,000 tons per year at its cement plants.
The states of Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency are joining the settlement.
In addition, as part of the settlement, Lafarge has agreed to pay a $5 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act's new source review regulations. Of the $5 million civil penalty, Lafarge will pay $3.4 million to the United States and $1.7 million to the 13 participating states and agencies. The facilities included in the settlement are located in or near: Whitehall, Pa.; Ravena, N.Y.; Calera, Ala.; Atlanta; Harleyville, S.C.; Paulding, Ohio; Alpena, Mich.; Tulsa, Okla.; Sugar Creek, Mo.; Buffalo, Iowa; Fredonia, Kan.; Grand Chain, Ill.; and Seattle.
Lafarge has agreed to install the first-ever SCR system at a cement plant in the United States. In addition, the company also has agreed to install seven selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) systems at long-dry cement kilns. According to DOJ, this is among the first application of this technology to this type of kiln in the United States. Lafarge also will install CEMS at all of its cement kilns, per the decree.
In the complaint filed concurrently with the settlement, the United States alleged that Lafarge and its subsidiaries, or their predecessors, modified one or more of each of their facilities without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment as required by the Clean Air Act. These violations were discovered as a result of EPA investigations and review of company submitted data. The states and agencies joining in the settlement have made similar allegations in their complaint, which is filed separately.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Copies of the consent decrees are available on DOJ's Web site at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.