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Cement Plant Fined $1.5M For Alleged Air Pollution

Two companies affiliated with a portland cement production plant in Martinsburg, WV will pay a combined penalty of over $1.5 million after settling allegations of Clean Air Act violations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulator announced in a recent release. 

Lehigh, a company that acquired the plant’s former owner, Essroc Cement Corp, and its current owner Argos, agreed to pay the fine for alleged breaches of the plant’s Clean Air Act operating permit and federal restrictions on hazardous air pollutants from portland cement plants. Argos acquired the site in 2016. 

According to the EPA, the violations that took place at the facility from 2013 to 2016 include:

-  Exceeding annual emission limits for total suspended particulates and fine particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter.
- Non-compliance with opacity testing, monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements and exceeding opacity limits.
- Failing to comply with requirements for operating a kiln that is subject to dioxin/furan emission limits.
- Failing to perform required stack testing on the kiln’s exhaust in a timely manner to determine compliance with emission limits for total suspended particulates, fine particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds.
- Having prohibited visible emissions from manufacturing-related storage structures.
- Failing to install, operate, and maintain continuous emission monitoring for hydrochloric acid in a timely manner.

The agency cited the two firms for the Clean Air Act violations using responses to EPA information requests and data collected and reported under the plant’s permit. Both companies did not admit liability for the alleged violations in the settlement. 

“This settlement demonstrates that EPA will hold accountable companies that fail to comply with operating permits that set forth requirements for protecting public health and the environment,” Cosmo Servidio, EPA regional administrator, said in a statement. “Communities have a right to be protected from hazardous air pollutants, and the EPA continues to ensure those protections.”

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