EPA Proposes to Limit Emissions from Portland Cement Production

September 8, 2009
by KATE VACCARO
Client Alert Newsletter September 2009

On May 6, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") published proposed amendments to the current National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants ("NESHAP") applicable to the Portland cement manufacturing industry (the "Proposed Rule"). The Proposed Rule applies to both new and existing sources and, if finalized, would add or revise, as applicable, emission limits for mercury, total hydrocarbons ("THC"), and particulate matter ("PM") from kilns and in-line kiln/raw mills located at major and area sources, and hydrochloric acid ("HCl") from kilns and in-line kiln/raw mills located at major sources. Pursuant to Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to establish NESHAP for source categories located at major and area sources of hazardous air pollutants ("HAP"). A major source is a stationary source that emits or has the potential to emit 10 tons per year ("tpy") or more of any HAP or 25 tpy or more of any combination of HAP. An area source is a stationary source of HAP that is not a major source. Among other requirements, the Proposed Rule would also amend operating and opacity limits in the current NESHAP, add standards applicable during startup, shutdown, and operating modes, and identify performance specifications for use of mercury continuous emission monitors.

Supporting the Proposed Rule, EPA has noted that Portland cement kilns are the fourth-largest source of mercury emissions in the United States. By contrast, the Portland Cement Association has claimed that the Proposed Rule would be devastating to the United States cement industry, resulting in more than $300 Million in new costs and leading to a significant drop in domestic production. Given the significant impact of the Proposed Rule on the industry, EPA has been conducting public hearings to take public comment on the regulations, which if approved, would likely not take effect until 2013.