- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A cement manufacturer has agreed to invest about $10 million to cut air pollution emissions at five of its plants in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas, federal officials said Wednesday.

Under a consent decree, Cemex Inc. will pay a $1.69 million civil penalty and conduct energy audits at the five plants. It also will spend $150,000 on energy efficiency projects to mitigate the effects of past nitrogen oxide emissions from its plants.

The Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced terms of the settlement. The building materials company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

“This agreement will require Cemex to pay a penalty and install important pollution controls to achieve reductions in harmful air emissions, thereby making Cemex a better neighbor to local residents,” said John C. Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said Cemex will use state of the art technology to reduce pollution and improve public health.

The five Cemex facilities are in Demopolis, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; and New Braunfels and Odessa, Texas. Pollution control authorities in Knox County, Tennessee, and Louisville participated in the settlement.

Cemex will be required to install pollution control technology to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and establish strict limits for sulfur dioxide emissions, federal officials said.

Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. The pollutants are converted in the air into fine particles that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

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