FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Pew, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500
Jane Williams, Desert Citizens Against Pollution (661) 510-3412
LOCAL RESIDENT CONTACT INFO
EPA Finally Sets Plans for Mercury Limits from Cement Kilns
Years of delay means thousands of pounds of mercury pollution gone unchecked
Three times in the last ten years, federal courts have ordered EPA to set emission standards to control cement kilns’ mercury emissions. Until now, EPA has ignored these orders or sought to evade them. EPA finally indicated that it would set mercury emission standards in papers filed on February 20, 2008 in a fourth case brought by Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk (TX), Friends of Hudson (NY), Montanans Against Toxic Burning, Desert Citizens Against Pollution (CA) and the Huron Environmental Activist League (MI), and the States of New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Cement kilns are among the nation’s worst polluters, and their free ride on mercury pollution needs to end at long last,” said Jane Williams, executive director of Desert Citizens Against Pollution.
Cement kilns pumped nearly 12,000 pounds of mercury into the air in
2006, according to EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). However, the TRI
depends on voluntary emissions estimates that may significantly understate kilns’
actual pollution levels. Individual cement kilns in
According to a 1991 article in Science News, it only takes 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 25-acre lake. Over 40 states have warned their citizens to avoid consuming various fish species due to mercury contamination, with over half of those mercury advisories applying to all waterbodies in the state.
Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair a young child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. While the mercury pollution from these kilns is staggering, they are also major polluters of other toxic air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and total hydrocarbons, a known carcinogen. In the court documents, EPA also pledged to regulate this pollutant as well.
“It is a good thing Americans can hold their government accountable for breaking the law,” said Marti Sinclair, Sierra Club’s National Air Committee Chair. “The cement industry far too much clout at EPA. If the Courts hadn’t put a stop to its scofflaw behavior, the agency would never have made this industry clean up.”
A copy of EPA’s Motion to Govern can be found at: http://www.earthjustice.org/library/legal_docs/20_epa_motion-to-govern-2.pdf
Ten Years And Four Lawsuits To Bring EPA Into Compliance With Clean Air Act.
Sierra Club first filed suit in 1998, after EPA failed to meet a
When the agency issued the overdue regulations, however, it refused to include standards to control cement kilns’ mercury emissions. Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, challenged that decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which found in 2000 that the agency’s refusal violated the federal Clean Air Act and ordered the agency to set mercury standards.
EPA ignored the D.C. Circuit’s order until 2004, when Sierra Club brought a third suit, which resulted in an order requiring EPA to issue the required mercury standards no later than December, 2006.
2006, the agency issued another rule refusing to set mercury standards. On this
occasion, it was sued not only by local and national environmental groups, but
also the States of New York, Michigan,
“After nearly a decade of litigation and multiple court orders directing EPA to regulate mercury from cement kilns, it seems the agency is finally paying attention,” said Earthjustice attorney James Pew.