Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am


Air Quality District applies stricter rules to Lehigh cement plant

Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss said last week that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District adopted the new Portland Cement Rule standards to regulate emissions from the Lehigh Permanente Southwest Cement Plant in Cupertino, the only cement plant in the Bay Area.

Kniss, who serves on the district’s board of directors, said the new standards require sharply reduced emissions of various pollutants (NOx, particulate matter, mercury, dioxins, hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons and ammonia). In the case of each pollutant, the new standard will match or exceed those recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, scheduled for implementation in 2015. For example, the allowable average daily emissions of mercury would be reduced from 0.72 pounds to 0.05 pounds – a 93 percent reduction.

“The new (district) regulations make Lehigh Permanente the most tightly regulated cement plant in the nation,” Kniss said. “A 93 percent reduction in mercury is very dramatic.”

The EPA’s proposed regulations have not been finalized and would not go into effect until 2015. The district’s new rule requires compliance in 2013.

“Instead of waiting for the EPA, we are requiring compliance in 2013 – two years earlier than the rest of the country,” Kniss said.

The cement plant, which was built in 1939 and last modified in the 1980s, will not be subject to some regulations targetting only new facilities.

Lehigh estimates that it will cost more than $35 million to comply with the new Portland Cement Rule and the Title V permit recently issued to the plant by the district.

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