Pittsburgh City Council supports health department’s clean air actions | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh City Council supports health department’s clean air actions

Bob Bauder
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor outlines a council resolution on Monday July 1, 2019, pledging unanimous support for the Allegheny County Health Department’s efforts to force companies to abide by clean air standards.

Pittsburgh City Council on Monday pledged unanimous support for the Allegheny County Health Department’s efforts to uphold clean air standards, particularly at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson and Clairton Coke Works plants.

U.S. Steel last week agreed to pay $2.7 million in fines from the Allegheny County Health Department related to 2018 air pollution violations at the Clairton facility, according to a settlement agreement announced on Friday.

“Environmental stewardship remains U. S. Steel’s top priority,” U.S. Steel spokeswoman Amanda Malkowski said. “We are committed to continuing to work with the Allegheny Health Department and members of the communities where we operate.”

Councilman Corey O’Connor of Swisshelm Park and Councilwoman Erika Strassburger of Squirrel Hill sponsored a “will of council” supporting the health department’s efforts to force clean air compliance. The pledge carries no regulatory authority, but O’Connor said it was important for public officials to show support for clean air efforts.

“The city of Pittsburgh is backing the Allegheny County Health Department’s air quality regulations,” he said. “The U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson plant and the Clairton Coke Works facilities must be held accountable.”

Environmental groups earlier this year sued U.S. Steel, alleging the company had violated the federal Clean Air Act since a Dec. 24 fire at the Clairton Coke Works damaged equipment, hindering the facility’s ability to clean coke oven gas and control pollution.

An East Pittsburgh resident also filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging that U.S. Steel was negligent and reckless by allowing the plant to continue operating after the fire and for failing to notify residents immediately.

Representatives of PennEnvironment and the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) lauded City Council for its action.

“Pollution coming in from out of state is not an excuse to not take care of pollution we have right here in Allegheny County,” said Ashleigh Deemer, Western Pennsylvania Director for PennEnvironment. “We can only control what we can control. We absolutely have the authority to hold our local polluters in the county to the Clean Air Act, and we should.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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