Lehigh’s NOVs

Lehigh Cement Plant Notices Of Violations (NOV)

Tim Matz, Lehigh’s Corporate Environmental Affairs officer, said to ABC7 News “We are heavily regulated.  We are very proud of our compliance and our compliance history in air regulations”.

In fact Lehigh Cement has a long history of violations in air, water, land, and employee safety regulations, some unresolved since 2006 and in the case of the EPA for a violation going back to 1996 (see below).

California Regional Water Quality Control Board – San Francisco Bay Region

Notice of Violation LetterMarch 26, 2010

Notice to Lehigh: Requirement for Technical Report to Document Non-Storm Water Discharge(s)November 29, 2010

Notice of Violations and Requirement to Obtain Coverage for Discharges to Waters of the U.S. under Different PermitFebruary 18, 2011

“On February 10, 2010, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contractor, PG Environmental, LLC (hereafter, EPA Contract Inspector) conducted an industrial storm water inspection of” the Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant facility. “The EPA Contract Inspector held a closing conference at the conclusion of the inspection. During the closing conference, the EPA Contract Inspector reviewed the preliminary inspection findings with the Facility Representatives. Pursuant to all provisions of the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Order No. 97-03-DWQ, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), General Permit No. CAS000001 for Discharges of Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activities (the Permit), the findings listed below must be corrected.

The inspection results were forwarded to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board for its staff to consider and act upon; Water Board staff has edited this inspection report to specifically call out violations, corrective actions, and due dates.”

(Quoted from 1st page of San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Board  Inspection Findings, Violations, and Corrective Actions Report, February 10, 2010 – 3.6Mbyte .pdf file)

On February 18th, 2011, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter to Lehigh reporting on the results of its investigation of “a number of citizen complaints” about its compliance with water quality regulations.  It states that Lehigh “is in violation of the Industrial Storm Water General Permit and is discharging non-stormwater without permit coverage.” The letter notes that rather than attempting to correct earlier violations, Lehigh has “argued with and attempted to refute” the board’s observations. According to the Board, “failure to correct the violations may result in a fine of up to $10,000 per day for each violation and $10 per gallon of wastes discharged.”

On April 30, 2011 California Regional Water Quality Control Board San Francisco Bay Region issued Complaint No. R2-2011-0023 (Complaint) [plus other attached documents] issues an administrative civil liability (ACL) against the Lehigh Southwest Cement Company (Lehigh) in the amount of $10,000. This liability is based on allegations that Lehigh discharged sediment-laden water to Permanente Creek that may also have been polluted by cement plant operations at its 24001 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino facility.  See more on Update.

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United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company Notice and Finding of Violation, March 10, 2010

(2.4Mbyte pdf Large Document)

Same as above but important parts highlighted

(4.2 Mbyte pdf file)

世界日報: 庫市水泥廠被指違反潔淨空氣法

The NOV issued by EPA to Lehigh on March 10, 2010, concerns a series of physical modifications made to the facility between 1996 and 1999. EPA said that these modifications should have undergone pre-construction PSD permit review, but the owners of the facility at the time, Hanson Permanente, failed to apply for a PSD permit, which would have required additional emissions controls for NOx and SO2. This NOV remains open without final resolution.

“Notice of Violation (NOV) issued by EPA to the Lehigh Southwest Cement plant in Cupertino

  • The Notice of Violation and Finding of Violation (NOV) is issued under Section 113(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which provides that for any violation of a requirement or prohibition of an applicable implementation plan or a permit, the Administrator shall notify the alleged violator and the State at least 30 days prior to commencing an enforcement action.

  • In the NOV, EPA alleges against Lehigh violations of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements of the CAA by performing modifications at its Cupertino cement plant that increased air emissions without applying for the correct permit and using appropriate air pollution control technology.

  • More information about EPA’s enforcement process may be found at http://www.epa-echo.gov/echo/faq.html#stages_enforcement

  • The NOV identifies increases in NOx and SO2 air emissions and production capacity resulting from the modifications.

  • The NOV contains no description of individual projects completed as these were all claimed confidential by Lehigh.

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County of Santa Clara – Department of Planning and Development

1st Notice of Violation from Santa Clara County 10/10/2006

2nd Notice of Violation from Santa Clara County 6/20/2008

Lehigh Quarry Reclamation Plan Amendment for the East Materials Storage Area, April 14, 2010 

Compliance Schedule Modification to above


Lehigh Cement used a disturbed area outside their permitted Reclamation Plant in an area Lehigh calls the East Material Storage Area (EMSA) to place overburden (mining waste) not allowed under the 1985 reclamation permit.  The County of Santa Clara – Department of Planning and Development (County) first issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Lehigh on October 10, 2006 after numerous complaint from residents.

A second NOV was issued on June 20, 2008 to Lehigh after residents continued complaining from residents that the pile of mining waste was continuing to increase in size.  This NOV stated the Lehigh must: comply with the following:

  1. cease depositing the mining waste immediately and,

  2. (a) providing the plan to remove the material or
    (b) submit an amendment to the Reclamation Plan.

The County entered into an agreement with Lehigh allowing Lehigh to continue dumping mining waste in the EMSA on April 14, 2009 without an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and a public hearing.

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Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)

BAAQMD is an arm of the EPA and represents it  on a local level

25 Notices of Violations since 2004.

“Since July 2004, there have been twenty-five violations at the Lehigh facility that resulted in the issuance of twenty-three Notices of Violation by the District. The violations can be characterized as emissions-related, administrative, or permit-related in nature. There were fifteen emissions-related violations; most were issued for excessive visible emissions of dust or smoke from various facility sources.”… “The two permit-related violations documented unpermitted material stockpiles.”…”Lehigh has been in intermittent compliance…there is currently no ongoing violation, or pattern of recurrent violation, that represents ongoing noncompliance.”

(Quoted from BAAQMD Agenda 7/23/10, ‘Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant Fact Sheet’ page 3, Section B ‘Compliance’ – 13th page of Agenda document)

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Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

MSHA is part of the Department of Labor

MSHA announces results of November impact inspections

“During an inspection conducted during the week of Nov. 15 at Lehigh Permanente Cement Co. Mine in Santa Clara County, Calif., MSHA issued 30 citations and six orders to the company. Five 104(d) orders were issued, including a violation for a supervisor’s failure to de-energize electrically powered equipment prior to removing a guard. Another 104(d) order was issued for unsafe access where inadequately secured steel plates could have fallen on miners or delivery drivers accessing a storage area; this hazard had been reported to mine management two weeks earlier. A 104(b) order was issued for failure-to-abate in a timely manner a fall protection violation, in which miners working at the top of a mill were exposed to an approximately 36-foot drop to the concrete below. Sixty percent of the citations and orders were significant and substantial violations. So far this year, MSHA inspectors have issued 185 citations and 21 orders at this mine.”

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See Highlights of all the NOV’s issued to Lehigh (2.8 Mbyte)

Compliance Comparison Between nearby Cement Plants

Below is information from the EPA’s database in which the Cupertino Cement plant is compared to nearby Redding and Santa Cruz Cement Plants.

It can see that the Cupertino plant has many more violations and a much high population than Redding or Santa Cruz.


  • 5 mile radius has 258,718 people

  • 10 formal enforcement actions $88,000 fines in last 5 years

  • at least last 12 quarters in violation of the Clean Air Act Violation as High Priority Violation (HPV)  “…HPV (this term is used in the Clean Air Act program) is the most serious level of violation noted in EPA databases. This designation provides an indication of whether violations or noncompliance events at a given facility may pose a more severe level of concern for the environment or program integrity…” http://www.epa-echo.gov/echo/faq.html#in_violation

  • 20 Notice of Violations of Clean Air Act from the State Agency from 2006 to 2008

  • 1 Notice of Violations of Clean Air Act from the EPA in 2010

  • 521 pound emission of  Mercury compounds 2005


Redding was award EPA Energy Star Award, had layoffs due to declining demand for cement, and ships cement across the west including award winning bridge in Oregon

Santa Cruz

  • 5 mile radius has 2,232 people

  • 9 formal enforcement actions $4,372 fines in last 5 years

  • 4 quarters in violation of the Clean Air Act but not currently High Priority Violation (HPV)

  • 4 Notice of Violations of Clean Air Act and 1 Notice of Violation of Clean Water Act from the State Agency from 2006 to 2008

  • 170 pound emission of  Mercury compounds 2005

EPA Facilities Report for Hanson (Lehigh) Cement

EPA Plant Emissions Information for Lehigh

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