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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Settles Major Air Pollution Case with CEMEX de Puerto Rico, Inc.

Contact Information: 
Brenda Reyes (reyes.brenda@epa.gov)
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that CEMEX de Puerto Rico, Inc., a major cement producer, will spend an estimated $1.7 million on pollution controls that will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, pollutants that can lead to respiratory illnesses, including asthma. In addition, the company will pay a $160,000 penalty for Clean Air Act violations.

"Air pollution of the type from this cement plant can lead to a number of serious health and environmental problems, including respiratory problems, heart disease, and smog," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "The EPA settlement protects children with asthma and other vulnerable populations from harmful air pollution by requiring that CEMEX install state-of-the-art technology and take immediate steps to reduce pollutants."

CEMEX is one of the largest producers of cement in the United States. The cement kiln system in Ponce has operated for over 20 years and is a major source of nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxide is a problem because in addition to contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone, and fine particle pollution, it is linked with a number of adverse health effects. The settlement addresses modifications CEMEX made to its cement plant without obtaining the proper permit, as required by the Clean Air Act. Businesses that produce large quantities of air pollution are required to obtain permits and install pollution control technology before making changes that would significantly increase emissions.

Following an EPA inspection, CEMEX conducted a smokestack test at its Ponce facility and potential violations were discovered. In the settlement, CEMEX will install control technology, which will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxides by approximately 1,423 tons per year.

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