Allegheny County Health Department to hold public hearing on U.S. Steel settlement
The Allegheny County Health Department will hold a public hearing July 30 at the Clairton Municipal Building to receive public comments on a draft settlement agreement reached with U.S. Steel over pollution violations at the Clairton Coke Works.
As part of the settlement, U.S. Steel agreed to pay $2.7 million in fines related to 2018 and early 2019 enforcement orders and subsequent appeals.
About $2.5 million will be deposited in a “community benefit trust” intended to benefit communities impacted by air pollution, according to a draft of the settlement released June 28.
Those communities include the municipalities of Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue, but additional communities as agreed upon by both the health department and U.S. Steel could be added in the future, the settlement said.
U.S. Steel will administer that fund, according to a statement from U.S. Steel.
The remaining 10%, or $273,250, will be deposited in the county’s existing Clean Air Fund.
The settlement also requires U.S. Steel to upgrade batteries — which house the facility’s coke ovens, where coal is baked at high temperatures to produce coke — in order to reduce emissions.
Those improvements are expected to cost U.S. Steel about $200 million, according to a statement from U.S. Steel.
The Breathe Project, along with 10 other environmental advocacy groups, sent a letter to the health department on July 1 requesting a public hearing.
“Pollution from the Clairton Coke Works affects a large number of people, particularly a large number of low-income, elderly, and African-American people,” the letter said. “A public hearing in Clairton, during convenient hours, would accommodate the many residents who would otherwise have difficulty in voicing their concerns about the proposed settlement.”
The department received several requests of this nature, health department spokesman Ryan Scarpino said in an email Friday.
“Given the critical nature of this settlement agreement, we wanted to respond in a timely matter to these requests and provide residents with an additional opportunity to weigh in,” Scarpino said. “This is very similar to the processes that we already do for many of our air quality permits, rules, etc.”
Members of the public must submit written comments by July 31. The July 30 public hearing begins at 6 p.m.
Comments can be mailed to the Allegheny County Health Department, Air Quality, 301 39th Street, Building #7, Pittsburgh, PA, 15201-1811.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .