Case against Cement Kiln Air Pollution Aims to Help Local Communities
July 31, 2008
Following intense testimony by Sierra Club and other community activists at the 2006 public hearings in Triangle Park, North Carolina and a series of Sierra Club legal victories crafted by Earthjustice, the US EPA agreed in March of this year to regulate mercury emissions from cement kilns. Mercury emissions from cement kilns are produced from the mercury-bearing limestone which is a raw material for cement making, the massive input of coal used to fire the kilns, and additives to the process such as mercury-laden fly ash from coal-fired power plants. Now data uncovered in a report just released by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project has ratcheted up the pressure on the US EPA to follow through on their commitment to regulate mercury emissions. The report entitled "Cementing a Toxic Legacy? How EPA Has Failed to Control Mercury Pollution From Cement Kilns," uncovered the fact that cement kilns have been releasing almost 23,000 pounds per year of mercury, nearly twice the amount of mercury previously estimated by US EPA. The report attracted media interest and put the data on mercury emissions right into the hands of citizens living near cement kilns across the nation.Sierra Club Air Chair Marti Sinclair says, “The cornerstone of public participation is the right-to-know. This report provides cement kiln activists nationwide with the information they need to be more effective advocates. Unfortunately, the news about mercury emissions from cement kilns is very bad and many citizens will rightly become disturbed when they realize that their families and their communities have been put at risk by corporate recklessness.” To read more about past litigation for this case, go here.
November 17, 2004
The manufacturing of cement in Portland cement kilns releases large quantities of air pollution that are acutely toxic. The 130 nationwide cement kilns annually emit approximately 5 tons of mercury, 580 tons of organic hazardous air pollutants, and more than 15,000 tons of hydrogen chloride. The localized impacts from these kilns are astounding; for instance, in Monterey Bay alone the Davenport Kiln releases over 300 pounds of mercury each year. In 2000, as a result of a successful Sierra Club lawsuit, a federal court ordered the Bush administration to protect local communities by setting emissions standards for these kilns. However, four years later the Bush administration has still failed to regulate these toxic polluters. In November, the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a case to demand that the Bush administration fulfill its court ordered mandate to cleanup these corporate polluters.
Details and Documents:
Sierra Club seeks tougher emissions rules
November 1, 2004, by Brian Seals, Santa Cruz Sentinel
Mercury pollution from cement kilns double previous estimates
July 23, 2008 by Earthjustice
EPA urged to control mercury from cement kilns
July 24, 2008 by Jane Kay, San Francisco Chronicle
Seattle's cement plants puff out toxic mercury, report says
July 23, 2008 by Warren Cornwall, Seattle Times
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.