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For immediate release – Saturday, January 23, 2010.
Contact Bob Brammer – 515-281-6699 or rbrammer@ag.state.ia.us.

Davenport Cement Plant to Spend $3 Million to Reduce Air Pollution

Improvements at Lafarge North America’s cement plant at Buffalo, Iowa, are expected to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 970 tons per year.

Lafarge North America, Inc., the country’s second largest maker of Portland cement, has agreed to make air pollution control improvements totaling $170 million at 13 plants around the country – including $3 million in improvements at Lafarge’s plant near Davenport, Iowa, that are expected to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 970 tons per year.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Lafarge agreed to the settlement, which was filed Thursday at Federal District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. If approved by the court, the settlement would resolve legal action to enforce the U.S. Clean Air Act that was brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a group of states, including Iowa. [Go to proposed Consent Decree.]

EPA and the states alleged Lafarge violated the Clean Air Act requirement that companies must have permits and must install pollution control equipment before they make major changes in plant operations that significantly increase air pollution.

“This is a good result,” Miller said. “The Davenport plant produces more than a million tons of cement a year, and the process results in emission of regulated air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide. Under this agreement, Lafarge will make improvements at the Davenport plant that are expected to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 970 tons per year.”

Sulfur dioxide can aggravate asthma and cause respiratory difficulties, especially for children and the elderly.

The Attorney General’s Office and the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources Air Bureau worked on the Lafarge settlement on behalf of the State of Iowa.

Lafarge also will pay a $5 million civil penalty -- $3.4 million to the U.S. and $1.7 million to the 13 states and agencies, including $135,000 to the State of Iowa.

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More background and detail:

The proposed consent decree settling the matter is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal district court. [Go to proposed Consent Decree.]

In addition to the Lafarge settlement, the EPA simultaneously announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Saint-Gobain Containers Inc., a giant glass-manufacturer based in Muncie, Indiana, covering all of the company’s 15 plants in 13 states. [Go to U.S. EPA Jan. 21 news release.]

The proposed consent decree settling the matter is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal district court.

In addition to the Lafarge settlement, the EPA simultaneously announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Saint-Gobain Containers Inc., a giant glass-manufacturer based in Muncie, Indiana, covering all of the company’s 15 plants in 13 states.

Ignacio Moreno, Asst. U.S. Atty. Gen. for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said: “These two settlements are excellent examples of businesses working with government to achieve compliance at their facilities around the country, which will benefit the health of local communities and the environment.”

Lafarge and Lafarge North America, Inc.:

Lafarge is a French industrial company specializing in four major products: cement, construction aggregates, concrete and gypsum wallboard. Lafarge North America is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the U.S. and Canada and is currently the world’s largest cement manufacturer by mass of product shipped. Headquartered in Herndon, Va., Lafarge North America employs more than 16,600 people who work at more than 1,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Lafarge owns 13 cement manufacturing facilities in the United States, making it one of the largest cement manufacturers in the country. The Lafarge Davenport plant produces more than a million tons of cement annually. Portland cement is made from limestone and other raw materials. A large kiln is used to heat the blend of materials to form clinker which is then ground into cement. The production process results in emissions of regulated air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter.

The states and the U.S. EPA alleged that over the last 20 years, at most of its cement kilns, Lafarge converted its fuel from a lower sulfur coal to a mixture of coal and high-sulfur petroleum coke, resulting in a significant net increase in sulfur dioxide emissions.

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