LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Cemex Inc. will spend roughly $10 million to reduce air pollution at five of its U.S. facilities, including a cement plant in southwestern Jefferson County, according to a federal settlement over alleged Clean Air Act violations.

The company also will perform energy audits at the plants and pay a $1.7 million civil fine. It will have about two years to upgrade a kiln that makes cement at its Dixie Highway facility, court documents show.

The improvements required under a consent decree, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn., include adding technology meant to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide at plants in Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.

Those pollutants contribute to haze and smog and can lead to breathing and heart problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Louisville Air Pollution Control District participated in the settlement, which was negotiated by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Louisville agency won’t receive any of the proceeds from Cemex’s civil penalty.

District spokesman Tom Nord deferred comment to federal authorities.

The cement industry is a “significant source of air pollution,” John C. Cruden, assistant attorney general  for the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division, said in a news release.

“This agreement will require Cemex to pay a penalty and install important pollution controls to achieve reductions in harmful air emissions, thereby making Cemex a better neighbor to local residents,” he said.

Federal officials allege Cemex didn’t secure proper permits when it modified plants in Tennessee and Texas, resulting in significant increases in emissions.

A Cemex spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The settlement still must be approved by the court following a 30-day comment period.

The Kosmos Cement Co., which does business as Cemex, pleaded guilty in April to a federal charge of violating workplace safety standards and agreed to pay $200,125 in penalties in the 2014 death of a worker at the Kosmosdale plant.

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