EPA proposes mercury cutbacks at cement plants
Following law suits from environmental groups and nine states, the EPA has proposed new regulations that would cut mercury emissions from kilns by more than 80%.
Associated Press reports that the Obama administration has proposed sharp reductions in airborne pollution from America's 99 cement plants, including first-ever limits on mercury from older kilns.
The rules also would lead to steep cuts in emissions of other toxins, including hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons, soot and sulfur dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency . EPA
proposed the regulations under court order after environmental groups and nine states sued, accusing the agency of shirking its duty under the Clean Air Act to regulate the cement industry's emissions. The rules would cover 163 kilns in 35 states. A couple dozen others, which burn hazardous waste, would be regulated separately.
Cement plants are America's fourth-largest source of airborne mercury, generating about 23,000 pounds (10,400 kilograms) a year, EPA says. Mercury is generated from raw materials such as limestone and some fuels used to heat the kilns that bake cement, a key ingredient in concrete.
EPA issued standards for mercury and hydrocarbons in 2006. But these standards applied only to kilns built after Dec. 2, 2005, so most kilns then operating were exempt.
EPA estimates the proposed rules would slash mercury emissions from the kilns by 81 percent to 93 percent. The agency also predicted drop-offs of greater than 90 percent in hydrochloric acid, which would be regulated for the first time, as well as soot.
Hydrocarbon emissions would fall by about three-quarters, the agency said. Although not covered by the rules, sulfur dioxide also could drop up to 90 percent because it would be filtered out by the same technology that controls hydrochloric acid.
The proposed rule is expected to be published soon and will become final a year from then unless revised. EPA will have a 60-day public comment period and a hearing if requested. Once the regulations are final, the industry would have three years to comply by taking steps such as installing pollution control devices or changing ingredients or fuels.
– Edited by David Greenfield , editorial director
Control Engineering News Desk
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey