Air quality monitor measuring SO2 emissions installed in West Mifflin |
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Jamie Martines

A new air quality monitor has been installed in West Mifflin, the Allegheny County Health Department announced Monday.

The monitor, which was installed at the New Emerson Elementary School on Pennsylvania Avenue, will measure sulfur dioxide, or SO2, emissions from the U.S. Steel Irvin Works facility.

Residents and air quality advocates have been calling for increased monitoring and oversight of emissions since a Dec. 24 fire at Clairton Coke Works hindered the facility’s ability to clean coke oven gas.

The health department issued an alert Jan. 9 , 2.5 weeks after the fire, advising residents — especially those with asthma, bronchitis or emphysema, as well as children and the elderly — that there could subsequently be higher than usual SO2 emissions throughout the Mon Valley.

Coke oven gas, which could contain pollutants including SO2 if not cleaned, is flared at Irvin Works. That facility is about five miles away from Clairton Coke Works.

The West Mifflin monitor is the second of two new air quality monitors the health department set out to install in recent weeks.

The other, installed in late January, is located at the Clairton Education Center. It also measures SO2 emissions and is intended to measure potential air quality issues in Clairton.

Both monitors were paid for by U.S. Steel, health department spokesperson Ryan Scarpino confirmed Monday.

U.S. Steel is also posting updates to repair efforts following the fire to a website dedicated to Clairton Coke Works and other Mon Valley Works facilities:

The company expects the coke oven gas cleaning unit, which was damaged in the fire, to be operating at 70 percent capacity by May 15.

Hourly data from the monitors is available on the county health department website.

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