Longmont Residents Fighting for Air Quality

Background: At a meeting with the Boulder County Board of Health, July 8, 2002, CEMEX stated as one of it's action items - "Review relationships with other communities."

The community of the St. Vrain Valley has experienced the reality of having a cement plant as a neighbor. We feel we are at risk from potentially toxic fugitive dust clouds, our quality of life is impacted by sloppy operations, traffic concerns, loss of well water, and noise, to name a few issues.

The entries below is are an attempt to show some of the experiences other communities have had with Southdown/CEMEX. This is the reality, independent of the number crunching, the community meetings, the EPA regulations, etc., etc.

"Good Engineering solutions require internal consistencies in the values of parameters use in the calculation" - Hazardous Waste Facitility Board, Ohio


Green Coalition
"...Environmentalists File Suit in Federal Court against Southwestern Portland Cement Co. Group chides Ohio EPA for non-performance... Government records indicate that there are ponds on the site which are leaching toxic metals including antimony, arsenic, barium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, and zinc in an open rivulet which flows above ground several hundred yars and empties into Mud Run Creek...Ohio's only native trout stream..."(Page 1...)(Page 2...)

"...September 30, 1997...'the company sold the property that is the subject of these lawsuits to independent third parties. The property was sold "as is where is" and the company assumed no obligations to remediate the propertyÖThe company intends to move the Court for a dismissal..."(Details...)

"This is the first attempt that we know of by anyone in the United States to circumvent the public health and water quality protections of the Clean Water Act by trying to 'secretly sell away' their liability," said Michael Jones, a Greene County businessman"(Details...)

"...Applicant's evidence not competent or credible, in several instance, identified supra, it could be surmised that Applicant intended for the information to be misleading...What was demonstrated, however, was the Applicant's sloppy engineering, sloppy science, and a disposition that "errors and inconsistencies are not important, and the Board should not worry. Applicant continued response to the Board's fundamental questions was that they could not answer..."(Details...)
The Green Coalition's main website...


Downwinders at Risk
"As public opposition and stricter regulations have reduced the number of kilns burning hazardous waste in the U.S., the cement industry has sought to export the profitable practice to other countries...
Through mergers and buy-outs, some of the same companies burning hazardous waste or tires in the US have corporate ties to plants burning waste and tires in Europe, South America or Asia...
Many of the same multinational polluters sending wastes to be burned in kilns at TXI or other plants in the US also send wastes to these foreign kilns for the same reason - to save money by using under-regulated incinerators..."


St. Vrain Valley Community Watchdogs
Local residents have photographs of years of fugitive dust clouds that regularly leave the Southdown/CEMEX plant. Now the company wants to burn tires, when they cannot even control their current operations.


National Citizen's Alliance is a coalition of grassroots environmental groups from communities in 18 states where cement or aggregate companies are burning or proposing to burn hazardous waste in their kilns.


Dedicated to preventing the Southdown/Transit Mixed mine from opening in the Santa Clarita Valley

Southdown Concrete Products Inc. was ordered last week to pay $15,000 after Ventura County filed a judgment and injunction against the company for polluting the Santa Paula Creek. (Details...)

New Jersey

Southdown quarry in Sparta, N.J., is locked in a legal battle with that community over whether the marble from its mine is putting asbestos in the air.

"...Southdown officials agreed to the plan, which calls for them to spend $700,000...but continued to negotiate with the state Department of Environmental Protection about how much it owed in fines for violations that include emitting too much dust...Residents have been complaining about dust for two years, saying they are concerned about asbestos emissions... The DEP was unable, on at least one occasion, to cite Southdown for a violation at night because it could not determine how much dust was coming from the stacks. Officials have said the sun must be behind them to determine whether the quarry's air stacks are emitting too much dust..." (Details...)


The Xenia/Bath/Miami Township Action Group (X-TAG) . The invitations read: ìThis private reception will be an opportunity to discuss future uses of Southdown Inc. property...We would like to share our future plans with you and to hear your views and ideas...
ìIt was such a farce,î area resident Ada Stockton said. Residents werenít addressed as a group, but instead had to visit booths that focused on different topics such as blasting, water concerns and the new quarryís location.(Details...)


U.S., Pennsylvania Settle Air Case Against Southdown
"...The violations began with Medusa Corp. in 1993 and continued even after Southdown Inc. acquired Medusaís cement plants in June 1998...The suit also alleged excessive visible emissions from the stacks of the plantís kilns and coolers since July 1995. In addition, the suit alleged that the company violated its Clean Air Act permit for combustion of hazardous wastes in its kilns from December 1996 until October 1998..."


"...On September 13, 1994, the United States filed a complaint against Southdown for violations of Section 301 of the CWA and the conditions and limitations of an NPDES permit issued by EPA...."(details...)


Hidden Flaws...
Concrete slabs
Though concrete trucks arrive at construction sites with a measured mix of water, cement, sand and gravel, 40 to 100 gallons of extra water often are added at the request of the finishing subcontractors.
That makes the mix easier to spread but is "the worst thing you can do to concrete," said structural engineer Jack Harrington. "It makes it crack much worse, much worse." Severe cracks let moisture and termites into the house. To cover themselves against complaints, concrete manufacturers have their drivers mark the added water on the delivery tickets, which also warn that extra water weakens the mix. Area concrete companies estimate 30 to 50 percent of their residential shipments are substantially diluted.
By way of example, on Oct. 25, significant amounts of water were added to six of 10 deliveries by Southdown Inc., a local concrete manufacturer. When the Times questioned watered shipments at U.S. Home sites, the builder asked its concrete vendor, RMC Ewell Industries, to check the slab strength at 355 homes. In each case, the concrete exceeded the building code requirements, said Ewell's senior vice president, James Bothwell. The test showed Riverview resident Ellen Rosenthal's slab was plenty strong, but it had sizeable cracks, which U.S. Home repaired in recent weeks. "All of a sudden they're fixing everybody who's complaining," Ms. Rosenthal said. She asked the worker if too much water had been added to the concrete: "He said, "Well, maybe."'

Others Companies:

California (the Bay Area)

Communities for a Better Environment(first section) (second section)
"...As determined by the Air district, cement kiln tire burning has been proven to increase substantially emissions of numerous toxic chemicals including benzene, nitrogen oxides, furans, lead, chromium, cadmium, and mercury, among others. In fact, the Air District has data that the emissions of dioxins would increase by almost 100% and lead would increase by 1000%..."


Proposed Pueblo cement plant kicks up dust...
"...residents are skeptical because the company is essentially being asked to monitor itself under the state's self-reporting environmental compliance regime. Further, the state Department of Health and Environment is too short-staffed to adequately respond to violations, they contend. ..."
"...The state stands to gain more than just cement from the new plant. Rio Grande will pay the State Land Board $400,000 in mineral royalties for limestone mined on the 3,900 acres, and that money is earmarked for public schools. The land board is mandated to capitalize on its holdings for the education system, and Rio Grande's mineral lease is more profitable than past agricultural land uses, says Kate Jones of the State Land Board..."
"...A grassroots environmental group filed a lawsuit Oct. 23 in Pueblo County District Court to reverse a construction permit granted by state health officials for a proposed $165 million coal-burning cement plant and limestone quarry operation six miles southeast of Pueblo..."

New York

Friends of the Hudson
"...According to the EPA, the three most hazardous substances known to man are emitted by portland cement kilns: arsenic, lead, and mercury..." (details...)


"...the Huron Environmental Activist League (HEAL) was formed in response to learning that the french-owned Lafarge Corporation Cement Plant, which is within the city limits of Alpena and sited on the shores of Lake Huron over a karst system, was in fact one of the largest hazardous waste incinerators in the mid-west and was in an on-going state of violation and non-compliance with state and federal environmental laws...HEAL members began to network with cement and aggregate kiln incineration communities across America and in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.K. It became apparent that similar problems existed in most of these communities with over two-thirds of the facilities submitting deficient Certifications of Compliance..."Myth & Fact


One Town's Story
"...When Dick Wysocki, Union Grievance Committee chairman, filed a list of these grievances, the plant manager responded, "Don't complain, soon you'll reap the benefits of hazardous waste burning...you can ask for the "moon" in your next Contract negotiations in 87'...no more concessions, and by then we'll be making more money on the hazardous waste than on cement." He acquiesced and the complaints were silenced. A few months later, Dick Wysocki was terminated along with over 500 other National Gypsum employees...Hidden in the middle of this vortex of fear and despair lay the awful truth that the french-owned Lafarge Corporation, disguised as a cement mill, could become one of the largest hazardous waste incinerators in North America, and there is no doubt among the majority of Alpena's residents...that's precisely why they invested in the plant..."


Montanans Against Toxic Burning
"...there's no scientific basis for concluding that burning waste tires in cement kilns is safe."(details...)

N. Florida

Ichetucknee Save Our Swannee Project "...the Anderson-Columbia public relations spokesman announced on August 29 that A/C has delivered the million dollars they had promised DEP to set up a trust fund to study environmental issues in the three rivers system. We do not think that such inducements should play a role in regulatory decisions by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or any other body. What is the price for a permit, we ask; just how much does it take to get the favorable nod?

You will recall the company also promised to give a parcel of land on the Blackwater River to the State for a park. This land had been used for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes over the years. Also promised was a bargain sale of the limerock mine owned by A/C near Columbia City. Is the current figure of $23 million a bargain? Is it enough? How much is enough?..."


The Air That We Breathe "Unusually excessive plume and unusually noisy precipitators recorded...
Local residents reported an unusually large and dark plume coming from the chimney...
Local residents in Bratton reported an acrid smell all evening..." (Details...)

Southdown vs Democracy

The Bush Administration, Sr.

"At Southdown's behest, administration imposes first cement tariffs in 26 years." (Edgar Marston...)

"...On September 26, 1989, eight months into the Bush administration, a Southdown-led group of U.S. cement manufacturers asked for protection from Mexican imports.
Three days later, Southdown gave the Republican National Committee $25,000..."

"...Thus Southdown could tell stockholders last year that it was possible "to achieve a price increase despite the precipitous drop in cement consumption"..."

The Cement Cartel

"...In the past twenty years the multinational cement makers have used revenues to tighten their grip on the worldwide cement industry by buying smaller cement producers, ready-mix concrete makers and stone quarries. Their tentacles have spread into the United States in the past decade and most recently into the newly emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, where they are poised to skim billions of dollars off the top of economic rebuilding and recovery programs..."

"...One of the most telling signs of the effectiveness of the "gentlemen's agreements" is the almost total lack of movement of cement powder between countries in Europe. No French cement goes into Germany, no Italian cement is shipped into France and no European cartel members export into the British market..."
"...The cartel members have also purchased numerous cement import terminals on the East and Gulf coasts, giving them a hold over most of the cement imported into the United States...following a 1985 Reagan Administration decision to eliminate antitrust barriers in the cement industry.."

"...What is in store for the U.S. market can already be seen in Canada...Canada's weak antitrust laws and government indifference have allowed the industry to up prices routinely and to buy up most of its cement customers to the point where cement prices in Canada are among the highest in the world..."(details...)


"...The "cutting edge" of hazardous waste treatment technology is cement kilns. They represent the fastest-growing segment of the hazardous waste market. For 10 years cement kilns have escaped regulation thanks to a loophole EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) built into its hazardous waste regulations. According to the regulations, if I send liquid hazardous wastes to a cement kiln where they are blended with fuel and then burned, I have "recycled" the wastes and they are thus exempt from all U.S. waste regulations. New cement-kiln regulations are in the pipeline but even these do not close major loopholes..."(details...)

Our Land is Their Land

July, 2002: The federal government's intervention is in support of the BLM's sand and gravel contracts with CEMEX, Inc., (formerly Transit Mixed Concrete, Inc.) which was awarded the contracts by BLM in 1990.

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