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EPA levies $2.5M penalty against US cement maker

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 BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency levied a $2.5 million
penalty against a cement maker and required the company to invest $30 million
in pollution controls at plants in nine states alleged to have violated the federal
Clean Air Act.
   Ash Grove Cement Co.'s penalty was announced Wednesday by the EPA and
Department of Justice in a deal where the Kansas-based company also will spend $750,000
 to mitigate effects of past emissions.
   The EPA said this will reduce thousands of tons of harmful pollutants from plants
 in Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Washington and
 Texas.
   Ash Grove disputes it violated federal pollution laws, but says it agreed to
the deal as costs rose.
   The EPA says this pact will reduce pollution that can hurt human health and
cause acid rain.

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