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EPA Inspection Results in CEMEX Correcting Violations and Paying Fine

Release Date: 12/21/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664 / rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that CEMEX Puerto Rico will correct violations of the Clean Air Act and pay a penalty of $72,500 for its failure to properly maintain and operate temperature sensors and follow reporting requirements to monitor air pollution during the production of Portland cement at its Ponce, Puerto Rico facility.

“Our inspection and enforcement activities are in full swing as evidenced by this case,” said Alan J. Steinberg, Regional Administrator. “Careful environmental monitoring and reporting is an important part of doing business. This settlement illustrates EPA’s commitment to effectively enforce environmental regulations to protect human health and the environment.”

The Clean Air Act requires the owner or operator of a cement plant to use temperature sensors to track exhaust to conduct daily tests to measure the potential emissions of toxic substances. These temperature sensors must be carefully maintained. Frequent monitoring of the cement temperature chamber is necessary to prevent excess emissions. Semi-annual reports to regulatory agencies are required to track any failure to meet environmental standards. The CEMEX plant’s managers corrected these problems after EPA notified them that the facility was not meeting the standards of the Clean Air Act.

Portland cement manufacturing is made by grinding and heating a mixture of raw materials such as limestone, clay, sand, and iron ore in a rotary kiln. The kiln is a large furnace that is fueled by coal, oil, gas, coke or various waste materials. The main source of chemical emissions from a Portland cement plant is the kiln. Pollution from these plants may be controlled by following EPA’s maximum achievable technology rules, which are emission standards for sources of air pollution requiring the maximum reduction of hazardous emissions, while taking into account cost and feasibility. EPA has consistently identified emissions of particulate matter as a significant source of pollution and a risk to public health. Fine particles that lodge deep into the lungs may trigger asthma attacks, and over time, may cause permanent damage to the lungs.

Information about environmental rules governing cement manufacturing may be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/pcem/pcempg.html

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