EPA Fines Cemex Cement $1.4M for Dust Collection Violations

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By Gilda Martinez
Environmental Author
Baghouse.com

February 10, 2011, Cemex, the largest producer of cement in United States has agreed to pay $1.4 million for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio, to the environmental protection agency (EPA) and to the Justice Department. An additional 2 million will need to be spent by Cemex on system improvements including the installation of pollution control technology in order to achieve EPA environmental requirements.

The plant located in Ohio was affecting the health of the local population. One assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said that the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can lead to grave health and environmental problems such as premature death and heart disease.

Increasingly, many environmental activists and politicians are taking are coming to believe that the only way to combat pollution is by levying heavy fines for companies that are habitually found to be in violation of current environmental regulations. This action they feel will force them to invest in pollution control technology to reduce harmful emissions.

This is a very important step taken by EPA, since it will mean not only an environmental improvement for the Fairborn populace and the surrounding region today, but also reduce childhood asthma, acid rain and smog caused by pollution, in the future.

According to the agency, Cemex annual emissions of NO2 and SO2 are expected to be reduced by approximately 2.300 tons and 288 tons.

Interestingly among the violations listed in the citation issued by the EPA, is the charge that also Cemex made substantial changes to the plant without first obtaining the proper permit. The largest polluters are required to apply for permits before beginning any work that may increase (even temporarily) air emissions.

The heavy fine for Cemex is part of an overall strategy by the EPA to mentioned push the cement industry to install the latest pollution control. For this reason the dust collection industry is expanding at a rapid pace since the demand for this equipment grows every year.

Tougher Enforcement Part of EPA Plan for 2011 – 2013

The imposing fines on the largest sources of emissions, such as Cemex and other cement manufacturers, is part of the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013 in reducing air pollution. The efforts put by the EPA in this respect are noted in the following figures:

During 2010 due to tougher enforcement of emissions regulations in cement manufacturing, coal-fired power generation, glass and acid industries the EPA achieved the following results:

  • Prevented the release of 370 million pounds of pollution across all industries.
  • 1.4 in pollution controls due to installation of Baghouses, dust collectors, and other air filtration equipments.
  • $14 million in civil penalties

CBS’s 60 Minutes Highlights the Dangers Of Dust Explosions

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Dust Explosion at the Imperial Sugar plant in Georgia

By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

The dangers of combustible dust explosions are among the most overlooked of industrial workplace safety issues. However the price for negligence in this area is often payed not only with millions of dollars, but with workers very lives.

But only recently has the this issue began to attract mainstream attention outside of the industrial world. Recent incidents such as the one that occurred at the Imperial Sugar Plant in Port Wentworth, Georgia on February 8th 2007 that claimed the lives of 14 works, and injured 38 others, have brought this safety issue to the forefront of industrial safety activists.

This segment from the CBS new program “60 Minutes” entitled: The Danger of Combustible Dust – examines the efforts of the victims families and others to force OSHA to create a national combustible dust standard.  Scott Pelley reports on the deaths and property damage caused by dust explosions at American factories, a problem critics say the government needs to do more to prevent.

This report which is of great interest to all in the dust collection industry can be viewed at the link below.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4162555n&tag=related;photovideo

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

One State’s Pollution, is now Another State’s Problem

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A few years ago the state of Maryland enacted legislation to require the installation of specialized emissions control technology to capture excess mercury emissions from power plants. And according to the latest published reports it appears that the initiative has been a success. Coal-burning power plants in Maryland are now required to install new pollution controls that reduce mercury emissions by 80 percent.

But appearently that is not enough to keep the air quality in the state safe enough for all. Why?

A serious health threat still exists because neighboring states have yet to crack down on the toxic pollutant, an environmental group’s report says. The neighboring states, particularly Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are among the worst in the nation for mercury emissions, ranking second, third and fourth highest, respectively, in the country. All are within Maryland’s “airshed,” where pollutants put into the air in one state are carried by prevailing winds into neighboring states.

Robert M. Summers, acting secretary of the environment, noted in a news release that 73 percent of the mercuy air pollution measured in Maryland is coming from outside the state’s borders.

He and others called on the Environmental Protection Agency to follow through with an air-quality standard it is set to propose in March that would curb mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.  The federal standard, if proposed as drafted, would reduce mercury emission by more than 90 percent, advocates say.

The report – and a recent press conference – are meant to put public pressure on EPA to go through with the regulation in the face of pushback from industry and its supporters in Congress, where legislation to block new EPA rules is said to be in the works.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

Battle Between Texas and EPA Over Emissions Permits

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In Texas, the EPA has informed a sizable number of oil refiners, chemical and plastics manufacturers that they need to bring their air pollution permits in line with federal and not Texas state levels.

All but three of the 74 companies have informed the Environmental Protection Agency that they will bring the state-issued permits into compliance with federal law within the next year.

This action is in response to the on-going conflict between federal air quality standards, and Texas state legislation which allows for so-called flexible permits. The permits in question require refineries, chemical plants and other facilities to meet an overall emissions cap but allows them to choose how to do so. Federal rules, however, require plants to limit emissions of certain pollutants from each source within a facility.

With this turn of events, it appears that even while Texas is still battling the EPA on this issue, industry in general in Texas is bringing itself in line with federal standards.

Commenting on Texas industries Al Armendariz, the EPA’s administrator based in Dallas stated “They understand these permits are an anomaly,” adding that none of the companies has indicated that it will sue to keep its flexible permit. “It’s now a question of how do they fix them instead of whether they should”.

Texas has filed suit to block the EPA’s disapproval of flex permits, asserting that there is no legal or technical justification for the federal agency’s action.

The EPA rejected the state’s use of the permits in June, saying they fall short of the federal Clean Air Act’s requirements. But those with the permits reacted slower than Armendariz liked, so he threatened fines and other penalties if they did not move by Dec. 22 to resolve their permits.

The EPA would not say which companies failed to meet the deadline because of the possibility of taking enforcement action against them. But Armendariz said his staff had heard from the 30 largest permit-holders, which account for roughly 90 percent of emissions released under flexible permits.

Pam Giblin, an Austin-based Baker Botts attorney who represents many large flexible permit holders, said industry waited to respond until the EPA had explained how to make their permits comply — and not in protest.

Pollutants and permits

The single overall cap, the EPA argues, makes the Texas permits nearly unenforceable and allow plants to emit more than similar facilities in other states. But state officials say the system cuts red tape and pollution without violating federal law.

TCEQ spokesman Andy Saenz said companies “must decide for themselves how to deal with EPA’s overreaching and unnecessary regulatory demands. The TCEQ is not requiring any ‘fix’ but the agency is accommodating any legally viable transition option that flex permit holders may choose to exercise.”

The EPA has encouraged companies to follow the leads of Flint Hills Resources and INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA – both of which agreed to apply for new state-issued permits after negotiating some terms and conditions with the federal agency.

That’s important because the agreements ensure that the state permits will meet federal requirements, said Ilan Levin, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, which has filed legal challenges to some of the flexible permits.

Request for transparency

“The devil is in the details, and the TCEQ hasn’t been willing to guarantee that these be done in a transparent way,” Levin said.

Valero Energy Corp., for example, has asked TCEQ to set limits for each emissions source at its plants, but to leave the rest of the permit alone. The state has issued new permits for five of the San Antonio company’s six Texas facilities, although the EPA has raised concerns about whether the revisions are federally compliant.

Valero spokesman Bill Day said the company is talking with the EPA to resolve their differences.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

Gasco To Pay $350,000 Penalty, Install Air Emissions Controls For Violations At Compressor Facility

(Denver, Colo. – January 3, 2010)  Gasco Energy, Inc., the former operator of the Riverbend Compressor Station on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation near Vernal, Utah, has agreed to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the facility by paying a $350,000 penalty and providing for air pollution controls at its facilities in the Uinta Basin.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced the details of the agreement under a consent decree lodged last Thursday in Salt Lake City.

“Under this agreement, Gasco and its successors will make significant investments to reduce emissions from facilities throughout the Uinta Basin,” said Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver.  “EPA will continue to work with partners, including oil and gas operators, to protect air quality resources for the benefit of those who live in the basin.”

According to a complaint filed with the settlement, Gasco allegedly violated several provisions of the Clean Air Act at the Riverbend facility including emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, as well as federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements.  The company disclosed the violations voluntarily.

The compressor station at the Riverbend facility compresses field gas for transportation through a gathering line, and removes liquids and water from the gas by separation and dehydration.  As part of the agreement, emission controls on dehydrators, compressor engines and storage tanks will be installed at Riverbend.  In addition, Gasco and its successors will install no-bleed or low-bleed pneumatic controls on gas compressors and well heads at all operating facilities in the Uinta Basin.  A pneumatic is a controller that uses pressurized pipeline gas to open or close valves.  The use of low-bleed units reduces emissions of air pollutants and conserves product.

EPA estimates that measures taken as a result of this agreement, when fully implemented, will reduce air pollution by more than 550 tons per year. These reductions include 122 tons of carbon monoxide, 427 tons of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants per year.   These pollutants can contribute to respiratory disorders such as asthma and reduced lung capacity, and many can adversely impact the heart, brain and nervous system.  They can also damage ecosystems and reduce visibility.

Expected reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, are equivalent to the annual carbon sequestration of 7,300 acres of pine forest, or comparable to taking more than 6,600 cars off the road each year.  These investments will also conserve product.  The natural gas conserved is enough to heat more than 1,000 homes annually.

The consent decree was lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

EPA Forcing Penn. Four Prisons to Reduce Air Pollution

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PHILADELPHIA (January 4, 2011) – Four Prisons in the State of Pennsylvania have reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency of alleged Clean Air Act violations. The settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and the Department of General Services, includes provisions that will include new pollution control technology being installed, and  additional reporting requirements at the four correctional facilities in Muncy, Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Somerset, Pa.

“Today’s settlement will improve the air quality in four Pennsylvania communities,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.  “It’s important that all sources of air emissions, including prisons, comply with environmental regulations to ensure that the standards are met in nearby communities.”

The exact terms of the settle require each location to make improvements to its boiler plants to reduce emissions, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides. These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, exacerbate cases of childhood asthma, and create haze.  Under the agreement, the Department of Corrections will also pay a civil penalty of $300,000.

The specific new improvements that are scheduled to be installed include a new Baghouse (Dust Collector) to reduce particulate matter at the Rockview facility. Other locations will switch from coal-fired boilers to cleaner gas-fired versions. In some locations the new gas-fired boilers will be installed, in others existing equipment will be used in a larger capacity, while phasing out the older coal-fired equipment.

This settlement has reporting obligations to ensure the prisons stay on schedule with the terms of the agreement.  Should the facilities’ boilers fail to meet the requirements, they will be subject to stipulated penalties, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per day contingent on the type and length of the violation.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

A full list of the proposed changes can be found below:

  • Baghouse to control particulate matter will be installed at the Rockview facility;
  • New gas-fired boiler units at the Laurel Highlands facility will be constructed;
  • Coal-fired boiler units at the Muncy facility will be shut down and replaced by an existing natural gas- fired boiler; and
  • The Huntingdon facility is required to either add particulate matter controls, or convert to gas-fired boiler units.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

No New Coal Power Plants Built In U.S. In Last 2 Years

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2010 marks the second year in a row that no new coal-fire power plants were constructed in the United States according to the Washington Post. However coal-fired plants remain the largest generator of electricity in the U.S. supplying approximately 50% of all power generated each year. Increasingly however factors such as the economy, lower natural gas prices, and environmentalist opposition, have effectively halted the growth of the coal industry.

Recent technological advancements in the extraction and production of natural gas have unlocked for use large domestic supplies previously thought unusable. This in turn has driven the cost of natural gas down dramatically. Reserves of natural gas found in Shale Rock formations, (or Shale Gas) are thought to be enormous, rivaling the oil reserves of the Middle East.

With many in the industry looking to natural gas as the future, including American Electric Power (AEP) America’s largest electricity generator, interest in new coal plants seems to be waning. Additionally according to a report from Deutsche Bank, if gas prices stay below $6, more plants will be converting from coal to gas.

“Coal is a dead man walkin’,” says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. “Banks won’t finance them. Insurance companies won’t insure them. The EPA is coming after them…And the economics to make it clean don’t work.”

This however does not mean that the coal industry is dead. The coal industry still manged to have enough weight last year to kill the climate legislation (cap and trade) in the US Senate, showing it still has a lot of influence in politics and public opinion. Plus, even as it declines, it remains the number one source of electricity in America.

Further challenges await the coal industry this year from a different front. Beginning this year, the Environmental Protection Agency has new regulations scheduled to take effect to lower greenhouse gas emissions of power plants emitting over 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Such a rule would force industry to install state-of-the-art emissions controls on new construction in order to obtain the necessary air permits. Along with increased pressure from Washington, this means that existing coal-fired plants will be coming under heavy scrutiny to ensure that they are meeting all current Federal and State emissions regulations. With large fines, and negative publicity being the price of failing to meet the new standards.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

The 10 Reasons We Have For Thanking The EPA For A Cleaner Planet

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One only has to look at how the US Department of Homeland Security and its TSA (Travel Safety Association) are making headlines recently for implementing controversial security measures at American airports, thereby changing the way we travel, to see clearly the effect that governmental agencies can have on our everyday life.

One agency that often gets overlooked has done more to change the United States (and through its influence the world) than most people realize. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

As part of a larger week of commemorating 40 years of protecting the environment, the Aspen Institute – an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue has listed the top 10 ways that the EPA has strengthen America. The list highlights how environmental activism benefits not only the Earth, and the people that live on it from a social, moral, and public health perspective, but also how by having avoided widespread contamination of the nation’s resources, it has lead to a stronger, more economically viable future for the nation as a whole over time.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson had these comments on the history of the EPA and its effect. “Over its 40-year history, EPA has evolved into the world’s preeminent environmental regulatory agency through a balanced, three-pronged strategy, combining excellent science, regulatory enforcement, and engagement of all stakeholders in developing new solutions to environmental problems. EPA’s balanced, multifaceted structure and operation sets the standard around the world for applying strong science, as well as economic incentives and disincentives, to achieve positive environmental outcomes while allowing businesses to grow and prosper,”

The following are highlights of EPA’s 40 year history identified in the report:

·         Removing Lead from Gasoline—and from the Air

·         Removing the Acid from Rain

·         Clearing Secondhand Smoke

·         Vehicle Efficiency and Emissions Control

·         Controlling Toxic Substances

·         Banning Widespread Use of DDT

·         Rethinking Waste as Materials

·         A Clean Environment for All/Environmental Justice

·         Cleaner Water

·         The “Community Right to Know” Act

A full copy of the report can be found at www.aspeninstitute.org.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

EPA Prevented The Release Of 11.8 Billion Pounds Of Hazardous Waste In 2010

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WASHINGTON D.C. – In a recent year end report detailing annual enforcement and compliance results, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through enforcement of regulation, and compliance actions forced polluters to pay more than $110 million in civil penalties and commit to spend an estimated $12 billion on pollution controls, cleanup, and environmental projects that benefit communities. The total accumulated effect of all enforcement, and subsequent reductions in emissions due to infrastructure improvements is expected to prevent the release of nearly 1.4 Billion pounds.

“At EPA, we are dedicated to aggressively go after pollution problems that make a difference in our communities through vigorous civil and criminal enforcement,” stated Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Our commitment to environmental enforcement is grounded in the knowledge that people not only desire, but expect, the protection of the water they drink, the air they breathe and the communities they call home.”

EPA Activities In 2010

Enforcement of the Clean Air Act provisions, are expected o alone account for the reduction of of approximately 400 Million pounds of air pollution per year. It is estimated that those reductions will save between $6.2 Billion and $15 Billion each year in health care costs. Additionally through FY (Fiscal Year) 2010 EPA actions have ensured that over 1 Billion pounds of water pollution will be reduced, eliminated or handled properly, and approximately $8 Billion in investigates will be made in pollution control and environmental improvement projects. EPA’s civil enforcement actions also led to commitments to treat, minimize or properly dispose of more than an estimated 11.8 billion pounds of hazardous waste.

EPA Criminal Enforcement

With diligent effort to vigorously prosecute accused environmental criminals, the EPA in FY 2010 opened 346 new environmental crime cases. The results are that 289 defendants were charged with committing environmental crimes, with 198 being convicted a$41 Million being levied in fines and restitution.

Interactive Data Access Tools Increase Transparency.

This year’s annual results include an enhanced mapping tool that allows the public to view detailed information about the enforcement actions taken at more than 4,500 facilities that concluded in FY 2010 on an interactive map of the United States and its territories. The map shows facilities and sites where civil and criminal enforcement actions were taken for alleged violations of U.S. environmental laws regulating air, water, and land pollution. The mapping tool also displays community-based activities like the locations of the environmental justice grants awarded in FY 2010 and the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities.

The release of the EPA’s enforcement and compliance results and the accompanying mapping tool are part of EPA’s commitment to transparency. They are intended to improve public access to data and provide the public with tools to demonstrate EPA’s efforts to protect human health and the environment in communities across the nation.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.