Ash Grove Cement Corporation

(Washington, DC - June 19, 2013) 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice. 

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Overview of Company and Location of Facilities

Ash Grove is a leading cement producer with nearly 9 million tons of annual capacity. It is the sixth largest cement producer in the United States. Ash Grove manufactures a variety of cement and cement related products. Ash Grove’s headquarters is located in Overland Park, Kansas. The company operates nine cement plants and thirteen kilns in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

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The Complaint alleges that Ash Grove constructed or made major modifications at its plants, including, but not limited to, its cement plants in Midlothian, Texas, Montana City, Montana, and Leamington, Utah. The Complaint alleges that such modifications resulted in increased emissions of NOx and SO2 and that Ash Grove did not first obtain pre-construction permits and install pollution control equipment, as required by the Clean Air Act (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provisions, Part C of the Title I, at §§ 7661a-f; and CAA 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492.

In addition, the Complaint alleges that Ash Grove violated Title V and the federal and state approved regulations by failing to submit accurate and complete permit applications, which, among other things, identified all applicable requirements (including the relevant PSD requirements and the requirement to apply best available control technology (BACT) pursuant to PSD).

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree (CD) requires Ash Grove to install and continuously operate current best available control technology (BACT) at several of its kilns. Specifically, the CD requires that Ash Grove install a selective non-catalytic reduction system (SNCR) for controlling NOx at six kilns, and meet emission rates that are consistent with or better than the current best available control technology (BACT) at each kiln. This will include meeting a rate of 1.5 lb NOx /ton of clinker at some of the kilns, which is the lowest NOx emission limit for a kiln of any retrofit control system in the country. For controlling SO2, Ash Grove will install dry absorbent addition (DAA) at two kilns and semi-dry scrubbing at one kiln. The CD includes unit specific BACT level SO2 emission limits at all kilns.

Ash Grove will also be replacing three existing kilns with a new state of the art kiln. The proposed Decree will also be the first global cement consent decree to include specific emissions limits for PM at each kiln. Lastly, the CD requires Ash grove to undertake a mitigation project to help mitigate the harmful effects of past excess emissions.

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Health and Environmental Benefits

NOx and SO2 have adverse effects on human health and the environment as discussed below:

  • Nitrogen Oxides – NOx can cause or contribute to a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment.  Affected populations include children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and exposure to these conditions can cause damage to lung tissue for people who work or exercise outside.
  • Sulfur Dioxide – High concentrations of SO2 can affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease.  Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly.  SO2 is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.

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Civil Penalty

Ash Grove will pay a total penalty of $2.5 million for violations resolved in the CD. Of the total civil penalty amount, $1.66 million, will be paid to the United States. The other $834,000, will be divided between the state agencies signing the Decree. 

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State and Regional Partners

The CD was negotiated with the assistance of several states and local agencies: Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. 

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement,lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Ms. Seema Kakade
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-2416
Seema Kakade (kakade.seema@epa.gov)

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