U.S. Steel appeals enforcement order aimed at reducing pollution | TribLIVE.com

U.S. Steel appeals enforcement order aimed at reducing pollution

Jamie Martines
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Clairton Coke Works on Jan. 15, 2019.

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, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.