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NC DAQ extends air permit


August 29, 2013

We are very pleased that the NC Division of Air Quality (DAQ) recognizes the merits of our Carolinas Cement project and has agreed to extend our air permit for an additional 18 months. Titan America filed for an extension in April 2013 because it was not able to comply with the air permit’s required construction timeline due to the Southern Environment Law Center lawsuit against the DAQ. Carolinas Cement also sought and received a modification to the permit's limit for particulate emissions (PM) to align with recent changes to EPA regulations governing cement plants. It was appropriate for our Best Achievable Control Technology (BACT) limit for PM to change for the same reason the EPA recently changed its PM limits.

EPA erred in setting its 2010 emission limits and monitoring system for PM. The monitoring method EPA required was a 30-day continuous compliance system. This monitoring technology could not reliably measure PM emissions at such low levels. In December 2012, EPA amended its PM standards and monitoring methodology to correct this error. The compliance monitoring method is now a 3-hour stack test, which resulted in a slightly higher numerical value of the limit to the PM emissions.  The EPA methodology still includes a continuous monitoring requirement that will indicate if there are any potential problems with PM emissions that warrant a retest of the 3-hour stack test. These changes were made because regulated companies like ours need to have technically reliable methods to demonstrate compliance.

It’s important to remember that although the form of the standard changed from a lower numerical value based on 30-day monitoring method to a higher numerical value based on a 3-hour stack test, that this did not change the stringency of the limit.  Here’s an analogy to demonstrate this change in the form of the limit: 0 degrees Celsius is the same as 32 degrees Fahrenheit and they are both the temperature at which water freezes.  But the Fahrenheit value is not ‘warmer” just because the number is higher. The amended regulations will maintain dramatic reductions in mercury, acid gases, particulate matter and total hydrocarbons from existing cement kilns across the country, while ensuring that emissions from new kilns remain low.

This modification to our air permit does not change the fact that Carolinas Cement will operate within the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), will consistently work to ensure the safety of public health and the environment, and will operate the cleanest, most advanced cement plant in the world.

 Bob Ordor, General Manager for Carolinas Cement LLC