U.S. Steel powers up C Battery

| Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 4:27 a.m.

Government leaders joined U.S. Steel officials in the commissioning of Clairton Coke Work's C Battery on Thursday morning.

“For more than 100 years, Clairton has contributed to America's manufacturing base,” Mon Valley Works general manager Scott Buckiso said. “With the commissioning of C Battery today, we will continue that long and strong tradition.”

“It is a very important milestone in the history of this facility, and indeed in the future of all of our Pittsburgh area Mon Valley Works facilities,” U.S. Steel chairman and CEO John Surma said.

The C Battery, a technologically and environmentally advanced unit that is replacing Batteries 7-9, is part of a more than $500 million project that includes construction of a new low-emission quench tower, and environmental rehabilitation of Batteries 1-3.

U.S. Steel will construct two more low-emission quench towers at Clairton.

Surma called the project the single-largest facility investment in the plant's 112-year history.

“This is a great day and a proud day not just for Clairton, but for the Mon Valley and Allegheny County and all of Western Pennsylvania,” county Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “I think it symbolizes the growth (that) U.S. Steel, United States Steelworkers and the partnership have had over the years. We're so proud of the investment. This is going to be the largest cokemaking facility in North America right here in our backyard that we can be very proud of.”

“What a shot in the arm for Clairton,” state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, said before touring the facility.

Special guests tossed a ceremonial coin into a hot car, per U.S. Steel tradition, for the first push of new coke batteries to signify the company's commitment.

Mon Valley Works employs more than 3,000 people, more than 1,300 of them at the Clairton plant, which makes approximately 4.7 million net tons of coke per year.

“It's a revitalization of the area, a great commitment by U.S. Steel and a great partnership with a great labor force. ” Brewster said. “It's tremendous for the Mon Valley, and given enough time, we're going to bring back significance to this region like we once had.

“It's new and it's high-tech. It's environmentally friendly. It's got all the safety concerns and all the things that maybe we didn't have as much of 50 years ago.”

County Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin, called C Battery “very impressive.” It's a new facility, and it looks great,” Macey said. “I was happy to see my son (Tom Macey) operate the pusher car. He's a fifth-generation steelworker in the Mon Valley.”

Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi, a maintenance safety coordinator for U.S. Steel's Irvin Works in West Mifflin, said the project shows a great commitment to improving the quality of life in the area.

“Probably the biggest thing is the advancement they're making with the environmental (improvements),” Lattanzi said. “That can make everyone in the city of Clairton breathe easier. We got $360,000 (in taxes) from the workers on that project. That is money the city was not going to realize. That was in itself a shot in the arm. If (workers) frequented anywhere in Clairton it was a benefit to the community.”

The C Battery uses Uhde's PROven Gas Pressure Control System.

“This patented-process technology meets the definition of best-available control technology and meets all regulatory requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Allegheny County Health Department,” Surma said. “In addition to the advanced design, low-emission quench towers will significantly reduce emissions, including PM 2.5 as the coke is cooled with water.”

C Battery was a long time coming.

The project was announced on Nov. 30, 2007. Air emissions permits were awarded by the health department on July 24, 2008, and groundbreaking followed on Oct. 22. The project was delayed for economic reasons.

The millionth refractory brick was laid on Dec. 21, 2011. Water discharge permits from the county health department were awarded on Sept. 28, 2012, and C Battery's first charge was on Nov. 25, 2012.

The project created approximately 800 temporary construction jobs with more than 2.2 million manhours. More than 2.4 million refractory bricks were laid, weighing 28,000 tons. Production capacity is more than 900,000 tons.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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