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EPA Cuts Mercury and Hydrocarbon Emissions for New Portland Cement Production

Release Date: 12/11/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 /

(12/11/06) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new emission limits for cement kilns that will help cut annual emissions of mercury and hydrocarbons. These limits will help protect public health from mercury and total hydrocarbon emissions from portland cement kilns, through amendments to an air toxics standard issued on Dec. 8, 2006.

The amendments set mercury and hydrocarbon emission limits for all cement kilns built after Dec. 2, 2005, and will reduce annual mercury emissions by about one ton and annual hydrocarbon emissions by about 1,100 tons. Kilns built before that time must meet work practice requirements, such as removing cement kiln dust when it no longer can be recycled and operating kilns properly to ensure complete combustion.

In addition, the amendments prohibit all cement kilns from using fly ash from utility boilers equipped with certain types of mercury emission controls, unless the cement kiln can demonstrate that use of that fly ash will not increase its mercury emissions.

While EPA proposed setting limits for hydrogen chloride for cement kilns, the agency has determined they are unnecessary. Hydrogen chloride emissions at cement kilns are better than levels considered protective of public health.

In a separate action, EPA announced that it will reconsider the mercury and hydrocarbon emissions for new kilns and take immediate steps to obtain additional information about mercury reductions achieved at kilns equipped with wet scrubbers. EPA is taking this step to consider new information about mercury and hydrocarbon controls at cement kilns. The agency will make this information available for public review and comment.

Portland cement manufacturing is an energy-intensive process that produces cement by grinding and heating a mixture of materials such as limestone, clay, sand, iron ore and fly ash in a rotary kiln. That product, called clinker, is cooled, ground and then mixed with a small amount of gypsum to produce cement.

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