A cement manufacturer with operations in the Northwest has agreed to pay $350,000 in fines in connection with federal Clean Air Act violations.

CalPortland Cement Company, 11115 N. Casa Grande Highway in the Rillito community, agreed to the civil penalties for failure to obtain federal permits following an expansion project in 1998. The company also does business as Arizona Portland Cement Company.

The violations were not connected to air quality issues. Had the company acquired the proper permits, it would have been subject to stricter emissions standards, according to EPA officials.

Thee EPA says cement factory emissions can cause health problems in humans including respiratory illness, lung damage and death.

"This settlement will result in cleaner air for communities affected by the CalPortland facility," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region, in a news release.

The settlement would require that CalPortland upgrade older kilns and related operations at its plant to reduce the amount of emissions produced. If the company elects to continue with the construction of a new kiln, it would be required to shut down those older kilns.

The settlement agreement is open for public comment prior to its final implementation.

The company had previous violations at the state level. In 2006, CalPortland paid $300,000 in fines to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for violations of state clean air standards.

The state issued the company seven notices of violation from 2003 to 2004. That settlement required the company to pay $300,000 in civil penalties, to conduct annual performance tests to monitor hazardous emissions, to assess the raw materials used in the manufacturing process to protect against future violations, to improve air quality in the neighboring community by applying dust suppressants to an unpaved road, to install a heating, cooling and ventilation system and air purifiers in a Rillito Community Center, and to offer air purifiers to local Rillito residents.

Public comment requested

The U.S. Department of Justice will accept comments on the proposed settlement with CalPortland Company for a period of 30 days from Oct. 14.

Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and either e-mailed to pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov or mailed to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20044–7611.

Comments should reference: United States v. CalPortland Company, No. 4:10–CV–00573–DCB and DOJ No. 90–5–2–1–08306.

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