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Indiana cement plant to pay millions in fines, upgrades over alleged Clean Air Act violations

Indiana cement plant to pay millions in fines, upgrades over alleged Clean Air Act violations


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A Greencastle, Ind. cement plant is facing more than $700,000 in fines and is being made to upgrade its facility after nearly a decade of Clean Air Act violations during which the plant emitted unsafe levels of hazardous air pollution. 

Lone Star Industries, Inc., a subsidiary of Italian company Buzzi Unicem, reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Indiana that was filed with the U.S. District Court Thursday. 

The complaint, filed with the settlement, alleges numerous and longstanding violations at the facility, roughly 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis, that date from 2010 to the present. The violations involve emissions of particulate matter that exceeded state and federal limits. Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that can migrate deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems, according to the EPA.

Air pollution:IPL to may millions in fines, upgrades over Clean Air Act violations

The company also allegedly violated requirements that limit emissions of other hazardous air pollutants from the burning of hazardous wastes, which Lone Star uses to heat its cement kilns, according to the settlement. 

“This settlement is a reminder that industrial facilities must comply with the law and prevent illegal emissions of harmful pollutants from plant operations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division in a news release. 

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management told IndyStar they would not be able to provide responses to questions until next week. The EPA has not responded to requests for comment. 

It is not unusual for an investigation of this type to go on for years, according to Daniel Nugent, the senior vice president of technical services and government affairs with Lone Star. 

That’s because “cement manufacturing is a complicated process and working through the complexities of the regulations is often a slow process,” Nugent said in a news release. The company declined to provide additional comment. “We’re grateful the agencies took the time needed to make sure we got things right.”

Under the settlement, Lone Star has agreed to upgrade and optimize its pollution control equipment and procedures at the Greencastle cement manufacturing facility. The plant’s primary product is portland cement, a product widely used by the construction industry to produce concrete across the country.

The company also will pay $729,000 in civil penalties, split equally between the United States and the State of Indiana, and will undertake additional measures not required by law to mitigate past violations of Clean Air Act limits, according to the DOJ release. 

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“Most of the things the agencies were asking us to do have already been done prior to this announcement, with many focused on recordkeeping,” the Greencastle facility’s Plant Manager Tim Menke said in the release. “But we are glad to have the investigation behind us.”

The EPA estimates that the measures required in the settlement will reduce particulate matter emissions from the Lone Star plant by 2.44 tons each year, carbon monoxide emissions by roughly 46 tons per year and other hazardous pollutants by about 1.7 tons in a year. The company will have to spend approximately $1.4 million at its Greencastle plant to bring it into compliance and mitigate for past harms.  

“EPA is committed to improving air quality in Indiana in order to protect people’s health and the environment,” said Acting EPA Region 5 Administrator Cheryl Newton in the DOJ release. “Reducing particulate matter especially benefits vulnerable populations such as children, older adults, and people with heart or lung diseases.”

The settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on June 3 and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. 

Call IndyStar reporter Sarah Bowman at 317-444-6129 or email at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @IndyStarSarah. Connect with IndyStar’s environmental reporters: Join The Scrub on Facebook.

IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

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Published at Fri, 04 Jun 2021 17:51:34 +0000