Cement firm fined for federal clean air violations

Posted Sept. 24, 2008, at 8:49 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — A local cement production company has been ordered to pay a $77,470 fine and pave part of its plant site after violating federal law, including the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Regional Office said Dragon Products LLC violated national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act,

The company failed to comply with regulations designed to reduce emissions of air toxics, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, benzene, toluene, dioxins-furans, hexane and formaldehyde, EPA said.

The regulations are designed to reduce emissions of particulate matter and hydrocarbons, some of which are volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of smog.

EPA said Dragon will spend at least $298,000 to take measures designed to reduce the emission of fine dust particles from its facility, including paving a significant part of the facility. The company also will buy a dry sweeper to go over the paved sections of the plant and vacuum up any particles that might have accumulated on the surface.

EPA also alleged that Dragon violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act by failing to submit EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Forms for lead, nickel, polycyclic aromatic compounds, manganese compounds and nitrate compounds.

Dragon manufactured, processed or otherwise used those chemicals in quantities exceeding the established reporting thresholds, EPA said.

“Dragon corrected all of the alleged violations as soon as the EPA identified them,” Dragon plant manager Raymond DeGrass said in a telephone interview Wednesday. He called the violations mostly record-keeping and reporting violations from an audit in 2006.

The emissions violations occurred before the company started modernizing the plant in June 2004, DeGrass said.

“There was an accumulation of violations between January 31 and June 30, 2004,” he said, attributing the violations to a prior process the company used.

DeGrass also said there was no reason to believe that any of the violations resulted in any harm to human health or the environment.

The issue over the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Forms involved a good faith misunderstanding of technical reporting requirements that Dragon immediately corrected when it learned of them, DeGrass added.

Greg Dain, staff enforcement attorney for EPA, said in a phone interview Monday that Dragon would pave a “significant area” at the facility to help reduce fine dust particles that can pose a threat to health.

“In the course of its operation, because of what Dragon does, there’s a lot of traffic over those areas that currently have [dirt] surfaces,” he said. “A lot of that is a significant amount of fugitive dust,” which he defined as dust that is not contained through a vent or smokestack.

“It blows off into the surrounding neighborhood and covers people’s cars, houses and windows,” he said.

Dragon has 80 days, starting Sept. 24, to comply with the measures, Dain said, and the sweeper must be operational for 10 years.

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