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Harrison mill harnesses new tech to cut down on pollution

| Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
ATI-Allegheny Ludlum's new $1.1 billion steel mill in Harrison (foreground) is anticipated to release lesser amounts of most of the pollutants that steelmaking emits than the existing facility shown behind it. Photo taken Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
The old ATI-Allegheny Ludlum pollution vents can be seen at the steel mill in Harrison on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The mill's new $1.1 billion steel mill being built on the same property is expected to reduce most types of air and water pollution that the steelmaking process produces.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
The new smokestacks at ATI-Allegheny Ludlum steel mill in Harrison are expected to release far less amounts of certain pollutants that are created in steelmaking. Photo taken Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

In 2006, ATI-Allegheny Ludlum was forced to pay a fine of nearly $300,000 as part of a settlement the company reached with the Allegheny County Health Department.

The Health Department echoed decades-long claims that the mill was polluting the air around Harrison, Tarentum, and Brackenridge, and fined it for nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emission violations.

That more than likely won't be the case when the new Allegheny Technologies Inc. opens a hot strip mill at its Brackenridge Works in Harrison.

The $1.1 billion mill will be state-of-the-art in every aspect, when it opens in December, including pollution control.

The mill has come under heavy scrutiny over the last three decades for air pollution. In 2008, a USA Today survey concluded the air around Highlands High School as the 110th most polluted in the country.

The mill's new technology, which will allow it to phase out old, dirty, production methods, will cut down on air pollution, mill officials say.

Although it will be better, the new mill won't be totally clean.

A study done by the Allegheny County Health Department showed nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide output will increase at the new mill.

That's something Allegheny Ludlum will have to buy “pollution credits” because of. That means Allegheny Ludlum can buy certain amounts of pollution usage from other companies that have not used theirs.

The plant will continuously re-use water taken from the Allegheny River, thereby reducing what the plant needs to take from the river.

Less than 5 percent of the water used will be returned to the river, and that water will be cleaner than when it came in, company officials said.

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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