Cheney Lime fined by Department of Environmental Management

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Cheney Lime Landmark Plant in Alabaster was recently fined $25,000 by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for filing faulty emissions reports, and for having higher-than-allowed emissions in the last two quarters of 2009.

The fine amount was a negotiated settlement between Cheney Lime and ADEM, according to an ADEM order filed Nov. 24.

“(ADEM) has compromised the amount of the penalty it believes is warranted in this matter in the spirit of cooperation and the desire to resolve this matter amicably, without incurring the unwarranted expense of litigation,” read the order.

The violations happened between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2009, during which Cheney Lime under-reported the amount of emissions released by the plant at 1152 Old Highway 31 in Alabaster, according to the order.

At the Alabaster plant, Cheney Lime heats limestone in a kiln to produce a material used in manufacturing items like steel, glass and paper.

According to the order, ADEM adopted stricter air quality standards in early 2009, and required kiln No. 1 at the Alabaster Cheney plant to be in compliance with the standards by April 15, 2009.

After receiving Cheney Lime’s excess emissions reports for kiln No. 1 for the third and fourth quarter of 2009, ADEM discovered “several errors” in the reports, according to the order.

When the company submitted corrected reports, ADEM discovered emissions at the plant were higher than allowed.

In an Annual Compliance Certification document Cheney Lime submitted to ADEM, the company also claimed it was in compliance with carbon monoxide emission levels at its No. 2 kiln.

According to Cheney Lime, the excess emissions reported in the two quarterly reports were caused by faulty equipment in kiln No. 1, and the sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions in kiln No. 2 were caused by a faulty oxygen monitor.

“On July 29, 2010, (ADEM) performed an unannounced annual inspection of the (Alabaster) facility,” read the ADEM order. “During the inspection, (ADEM) was informed that (Cheney Lime) had not been performing O2 monitoring and recordkeeping on kiln No. 2 as required.”

The excess emissions did not cause any “irreparable harm to the environment,” according to the order.

As of Nov. 30, messages left with Cheney Lime President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Cheney Jr. had not been returned.