New regulations to be implemented on cement plants

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Bay Area is about to become the first in the nation to implement tough new EPA requirements on cement plants. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is poised to issue a proposed renewal of an operating permit for Leigh Cement Plant in Cupertino.

The draft permit would incorporate standards for mercury emissions that would take effect in September 2013 and reduce mercury levels by 90 percent. The plant and its emissions have been the subject of much debate recently as people in and around Cupertino try to get local government officials to address their health concerns.

One of the concerned residents is Cupertino mother Wallis Alviar. She supports the crackdown, but is concerned two lawsuits filed by the cement industry and a Republican-led Congress could derail the EPA efforts.

"We're very concerned that before these EPA restrictions go into effect, they'll be overturned and then we will be back to square one," she said.

Timothy Metz is the corporate director of environmental affairs for Lehigh and told ABC7 News from his office in Irving, Texas that it will be a priority to make sure the Cupertino plant meets the EPA's deadline for compliance.

"We're moving forward with looking at new control technologies to establishing new designs and getting those installed on time to meet the new rule," he said.

The draft proposed Title V permit, as it is called, will be released in two weeks and there will be an expanded 60-day public comment period.