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David Sternberg (215) 814-5548
WAMPUM, Pa. - Southdown, Inc. (formerly Medusa Corp.) will pay a $475,000 penalty and improve the air pollution control at its portland cement plant in Wampum, Lawrence County, Pa. under a settlement filed today in federal court. The settlement was negotiated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for numerous Clean Air Act violations at the former Medusa plant.
EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe said that the agreement promises to end the longstanding air pollution problems at the plant. “Today’s settlement deals fairly with the violations, and should help protect local air quality for years to come,” said McCabe.
EPA and DEP alleged that the Wampum plant violated federal and state regulations limiting visible and fugitive emissions of particulate matter. Fugitive emissions are pollution that is released to the air other than through a flue or stack. Particulate matter, also called soot, impairs visibility and aggravates asthma and other respiratory ailments -- especially among children and the elderly.
The violations began with Medusa Corp. in 1993 and continued even after Southdown, Inc. acquired Medusa’s cement plants in June 1998. Over the past six years, both EPA and DEP inspectors observed fugitive and visible emissions at various sources in the Wampum plant on numerous inspections. Residents in the area also observed the emissions and filed complaints against the plant with the DEP.
The suit also alleged excessive visible emissions from the stacks of the plant’s kilns and coolers since July 1995. In addition, the suit alleged that the company violated its Clean Air Act permit for combustion of hazardous wastes in its kilns from December 1996 until October 1998.
In the settlement documents, Southdown has agreed to pay a $475,000 penalty ($319,000 penalty to the U.S. and $156,000 to Pennsylvania), and to undertake extensive injunctive relief, including improved air pollution control devices in the kilns; identification and elimination of all fugitive emission sources; regular emission monitoring and reporting; and implementation of an EPA-approved “operation and maintenance” plan to reduce particulate emissions throughout the plant.
In addition, the company will spend at least $75,000 to pave nearly 12,000 square feet of unpaved hauling roads at the facility because unpaved hauling roads contribute to soot. This project, which exceeds the requirements of federal and state environmental regulations, will eliminate the emission of dust and particulate matter from these roads and reduce the need to use water to suppress dust.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.