The agreement extends by 18 months the deadline by which Lafarge must build a new kiln with advanced air pollution controls. Lafarge had asked for extra time because of the industry's slower-than-expected recovery from recession.
In exchange for additional time, the settlement sets annual limits on allowable emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by the Ravena plant that are at or below the limits contained in the original settlement. A separate agreement between New York and Lafarge limits mercury emissions to levels 25% lower than the plant's current air pollution control permit.
The revised settlement also commits Lafarge to funding US$1.5m (£975m) in projects to further reduce pollution emissions at the plant and in the surrounding communities.
“This settlement will improve the air in Ravena and the surrounding area, while helping to ensure jobs stay in the community,” said attorney general Eric Schneiderman. “My office will work to ensure Lafarge complies fully with this settlement, meets its obligations to modernize the Ravena operations, and continues to advance air quality in the Ravena area.”
Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens said: “The amended settlement will yield cleaner air while enabling Lafarge to continue with its plan to modernize the Ravena plant, creating and preserving jobs in the process."
The settlement amends a 2010 consent decree that the federal Environmental Protection Agency, New York and 11 other states entered into with Lafarge requiring the company to limit pollutant emissions from its 13 plants nationwide.
In New York, the company's Ravena plant was required to meet these limits by either retrofitting the plant’s existing cement kilns with pollution controls or by constructing a new, state-of-the-art kiln with advanced pollution controls by 1 January 2015. Lafarge elected to construct a new kiln to comply with the consent decree, but approached the state and federal government about an extension of time to complete the construction because the recovery of the US cement industry from the recent recession has been slower than expected.
The amended consent decree allows the company until 1 July 2016 to complete construction of the new kiln and requires Lafarge to follow a specific construction schedule that includes milestones and penalties if there are any further delays.