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E-M:/ Michigan plants off the hook on federal air rule

Michigan has two large cement plants
in Alpena and Charlevoix that will be permitted
to continue without being under such a new
federal rule because of the Bush Administration action.

Both are on the shores of the Great Lakes.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2004     

Jim Pew, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 x214
Jared Saylor, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 x238
Jane Williams, Sierra Club, (661) 273-3098
Wendy Balazik, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2383

Groups Target Bush EPA's Refusal to Control Mercury,
Other Toxic Air Pollutants
Failure to Comply with Court Order to Reduce Cement Kiln Emissions Threatens Public Health

Washington, DC-In defiance of a court order issued almost four years ago,
the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still has
not issued regulations to reduce air pollution from cement kilns, a major
source of mercury and other toxic emissions. This failure to take the
necessary-and legally mandated-steps to protect public health and the
environment has prompted Earthjustice to file a legal action on behalf of
the Sierra Club today asking the court to compel the agency to finally
comply with the original court order.

The Bush administration's refusal to issue these air pollution regulations
has resulted in virtually unregulated toxic emissions of mercury, hydrogen
chloride and organic hazardous air pollutants (organic HAPs) from the
nation's 137 cement kilns. EPA's own estimates reveal that the cement kiln
industry emits approximately 5 tons of mercury, 580 tons of organic HAPs,
and more than 15,000 tons of hydrogen chloride each year
. Mercury is a known
neurotoxin that can cause adverse reproductive and developmental health
effects and is dangerous in extremely small amounts. Hydrogen chloride, also
known as hydrochloric acid, is a powerful irritant to the eyes, nose and
throat. Organic HAPs are comprised of various substances and can have a
number of harmful effects, ranging from respiratory disturbance to increased
cancer risk.

"Cement kilns emit large amounts of mercury and other air pollutants and
they need to have the best air pollution control technology available if
public health is to come before profits," Jane Williams of Sierra Club said.
"The Bush administration's refusal to properly regulate these kilns puts at
risk every single person living near these facilities. For the agency to
neglect protection for these citizens is unacceptable."

The cement kiln industry operates facilities in thirty-seven states spanning
every region of the country. Cement kilns release toxins during the cement
manufacturing process, which involves burning both fossil fuels and various
types of waste-derived fuels.

"By ignoring the court's order, the Environmental Protection Agency has
shown contempt for the rule of law and blatant disregard for human health,"
said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew.

In December 2000, the federal Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ordered
EPA to issue regulations required under the Clean Air Act to limit the
amount of mercury, hydrogen chloride and organic hazardous air pollutants
from cement kilns. The Bush administration has not complied with the court's
order. The legal action filed today by Earthjustice and Sierra Club asks the
D.C. Circuit to compel the administration to obey the court order and
control toxic emissions from cement kilns.

"In spite of the fact that 45 states have fish consumption advisories due to
mercury contamination and even though one in six American women of
childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood high enough to put her baby
at risk, the Bush administration continues to ignore science and is letting
these facilities off the hook for cleaning up this poison," said Navis
Bermudez, Director of Sierra Club's Clean Water Campaign.

EPA's failure to act on controlling toxic pollution from cement kilns is yet
another instance of the Bush administration's refusal to protect public
health and the environment from the threat of toxic mercury. In addition to
the cement kiln industry, the administration is attempting to weaken and
delay mercury pollution reductions from coal-burning power plants, an
industrial sector that emits some 48 tons of mercury each year. The Bush
administration is also ignoring a massive problem in the mercury cell
chlor-alkali industry, where some 65 tons of mercury goes unaccounted for
each year. The administration's only explanation is that this missing
mercury is "something of an enigma."


For a map showing the location of cement kiln facilities across the country,
visit: http://www.earthjustice.org/news/cement_kilns/cement_kilns.html

For a copy of today's filing and additional information about mercury,
including a fact sheet and state specific mercury emissions from cement
kilns, visit:


Brian Smith
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Oakland, CA 94612-2820
PHONE: 510.550.6714
FAX: 510.550.6740

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

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