Essroc’s cement plant near Martinsburg, Virginia, has been cited by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for emitting excessive amounts of a dust-like particulate matter.
In a violation notice issued Monday, West Virginia Division of air quality director William F Durham said that officials with the agency conducted visible emission observations on October 27 in response to several complaints filed by nearby residents concerning “excessive opacity and particulate matter fallout.”
The inspectors found that the average amount of dust obscured by pollution in the air during six-minute blocks of time exceeded the plant’s permitted 10% emission limit, with the highest average reaching 40.4%, the notice said.
“Highest individual opacity readings of 55% were observed and documented,” Durham said.
The emission observations were noted at the Portland cement plant’s clinker storage silos and conveyor belt coming from the clinker cooler, the notice said.
The notice said the company might be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties, including a civil penalty up to $10,000 per day for each violation.
Essroc is required to file a response that includes an explanation of the cause of the conditions, how long the conditions existed, and what has been done or is being done to address the violations.
Essroc spokesman CD Linton on Monday reiterated the steps that plant manager Heinz Knopfel said were taken last month to keep dust from leaving the plant, including an October 21 decision to halt a special operation to haul clinker to the company’s sister plant in Nazareth, Pa.
The company also said it increased road sweeping and watering as part of efforts to contain dust.
Essroc environmental manager Bradley Blase cited the increased number of trucks hauling clinker to Pennsylvania, noting they had caused the extra dust to be “kicked up from the loading of the trucks and transportation on the roads.”
Until the deliveries were halted, the number of trucks leaving the plant, which operates 24 hours a day, had nearly doubled to 50 per day as a result of the operation.