Tehachapi Plant Announces Plans for Mercury Reduction System

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company announced plans to install an innovative mercury reduction system at its cement plant in Tehachapi, Calif. The plant will begin installation of a state-of-the-art Activated Carbon Injection (ACI) system in early 2013 with the goal of completing the project later in the year.
Mercury emissions from cement manufacturing are primarily attributable to the naturally occurring concentrations found in limestone, the key raw material needed to make cement. Traces can be found in other local components as well, such as silica, and the plant had already taken steps to replace that material from the site with silica purchased from an outside source.

The company has successfully installed similar ACI systems at two other plants in the United States, including one at its Permanente Cement plant in Cupertino, Calif. The Cupertino plant was the first cement plant in California to apply this progressive reduction technology. As a result of the ACI system, the Permanente plant realized a 90% reduction in mercury emissions. The company expects a similar reduction at the Tehachapi plant once the system is in place.

“Lehigh Southwest Cement Company is serious about environmental sustainability and we are committed to working closely with the communities where we operate,” said Alan Rowley, Plant Manager at the Tehachapi facility. “The planned implementation of this mercury-reducing technology clearly demonstrates this commitment and reflects our focus on minimizing the environmental impact of our operations.”

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company’s operations are highly regulated by federal, state and local agencies which frequently monitor its facilities. In response to a request from the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District in 2009, a leading independent environmental consulting form prepared a Health Risk Assessment for the Tehachapi plant. The publically available report, published in 2010, concluded that health risks related to mercury emissions from the plant were below notification levels established by the district.