U.S. Steel appeals enforcement order aimed at reducing pollution
U.S. Steel is appealing an enforcement order issued by the Allegheny County Health Department, arguing the required actions and deadlines “would place the safety of our employees and local communities at risk.”
The Thursday order required Mon Valley Works facilities — which include Clairton Coke Works in Clairton, Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and Irvin Plant in West Mifflin — to choose among reducing the volume of coal in each coke oven, further extending coking times or putting coke oven batteries in “hot idle” status.
“We are disappointed the ACHD has issued another unilateral order rather than working to resolve environmental issues through communication and cooperation,” U.S. Steel said in a statement Friday. “As a result, we are forced to raise our concerns by appealing this order that places workers’ safety at risk and would worsen environmental performance. While this appeal was necessary, we welcome an opportunity to meet with the ACHD to resolve these issues and deadlines without protracted litigation.”
The company has started taking steps to extend coking times, a move that is intended to reduce emissions, but said it can’t do it within the schedule laid out in the enforcement order without putting employees and the community at risk, according to the statement.
The order followed a series of spikes in sulfur dioxide emissions since a Dec. 24 fire at Clairton Coke Works hindered the facility’s ability to clean coke oven gas.
The health department issued the order after it determined that recent emissions spikes were directly related to a lack of desulfurization at Clairton Coke Works, and that the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted daily from Mon Valley Works facilities exceeds federal and local air quality standards.
Repairs that will allow the facility to restart environmental controls and return the plant to compliance are expected to be completed within the next nine weeks, according to the U.S. Steel statement.
This week’s enforcement order is not related to other enforcement actions against U.S. Steel.
A 2016 consent order remains in effect until March 24, 2019.
U.S. Steel also is appealing a June 2018 enforcement order issued against Clairton Coke Works that included a $1 million fine related to emissions problems.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .