Environmental groups file notice to sue U.S. Steel | TribLIVE.com

Environmental groups file notice to sue U.S. Steel

Jamie Martines
The U.S. Steel Clairton Works plant on July 15, 2010.

U.S. Steel could be facing another federal lawsuit, air quality advocates announced Thursday.

Environmental Integrity Project, the Breathe Project and the Clean Air Council filed a notice to U.S. Steel as well as federal, state and local agencies for air pollution stating that they intend to sue U.S. Steel over alleged failure to report releases of pollutants from three facilities for more than 100 days, starting in December, according to a statement released by the groups.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, citizens may sue alleged polluters but must first give those entities a 60-day notice before filing a complaint. The groups announced their intent to sue Thursday as U.S. Steel was holding an event to celebrate a $1 billion investment in its Mon Valley Works facilities — which include the Edgar Thomson Plant, Clairton Plant and Irvin Works — that the company said will increase production while also reducing emissions.

U.S. Steel did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the notification.

The groups allege that U.S. Steel violated federal law by failing to report unpermitted releases of pollutants to the National Response Center, which notifies state and local agencies and makes those reports available to the public, in the weeks following a Dec. 24 fire that damaged equipment and disrupted processes that clean coke oven gas, according to a statement from the groups.

U.S. Steel could correct those alleged violations by calling the National Response Center and reporting those releases, said Adam Kron, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.

“It would have been far better for the public and state and local agencies if U.S. Steel reported to the National Response Center immediately and on each day in which there were hazardous releases,” Kron said in an email. “But U.S. Steel could address those violations now by reporting all the specific release data it knows, including the hazardous substances involved and quantities. Additionally, if the Mon Valley Works facilities have ongoing hazardous releases, any correction of U.S. Steel’s reporting violations must include immediate reporting of all current and future releases.”

The Clean Air Council is involved in a separate federal suit with PennEnvironment that contends U.S. Steel is violating permits related to coke oven gas pollution.

In that lawsuit, the groups are seeking a court order that would require U.S. Steel to comply with air permits, an order that would require U.S. Steel to remediate harm caused to local communities as well as hefty civil penalties to punish U.S. Steel for past violations and deter future violations, according to a statement from the groups.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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