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Air quality hearing set on Harrison steel mill

Mary Ann Thomas
| Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009

The Allegheny County Health Department will hold a hearing on an emissions permit for the installation of ATI-Allegheny Ludlum's new steel processing plant in Harrison.

The specialty steelmaker's anticipated $1.2 billion hot strip mill project is under way as the company is demolishing 26 structures to prepare the site for the new building. The steel mill is formally known as the Brackenridge Works, although all but a small sliver is in Harrison.

The steelmaker has not announced a construction timetable.

"A review and analysis of projected emissions from the new facility indicates that it will not have a significant impact on air quality in the surrounding areas," said Bruce Dixon, director of the county health department.

Even so, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, or GASP, of Pittsburgh will comment on its concerns about air quality issues surrounding the plant.

Allegheny Ludlum's Brackenridge Works is a significant source of fine particle pollution in Allegheny County, according to Joe Osborne, legal director of GASP.

"We're not opposed to the project," said Osborne. "We just want to make sure that it is built in the most environmentally responsible way possible and that it incorporates adequate pollution controls."

Last year, a USA Today report on air quality around the nation's schools, "Smokestack Effect," ranked the air quality at Highlands High School, just up the hill from the Ludlum mill, as among the worst in the nation.

Of special concern was the presence of the toxic chemical chromium, one of the compounds that is part of the production of stainless steel, the main product of ATI-Allegheny Ludlum's Brackenridge Works.

The county health department questioned the newspaper's findings because of a number of factors, including the short period of time for testing. But the county has since provided more monitoring of the air quality at Highlands High School.

"Given the findings in the USA Today study relating to air quality at Highlands, it's important that we look at the emissions of toxic metals from Allegheny Ludlum and other nearby facilities," said Osborne.

"We think additional measures can be implemented at the proposed facility that would improve air quality," he added.

Additional Information:

Coming up

Who: The Allegheny County Health Department

What: Hearing on emissions permit for new Allegheny Ludlum steel processing plant

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: VFW, 894 Veterans Lane, Natrona Heights, Harrison

Details: Testimony given at the hearing must be scheduled in advance by calling 412-578-8115 no later than 4 p.m. today.

Additional Information:

To review the plan

The proposed permits are posted on the health department's Web site , and are also available for review, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the health department's air quality program office, 301 39th St., in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.

The health department will take comments from those who are unable to attend the hearing until Nov. 22 via the internet at aqpermits@achd.net or regular mail sent to the Allegheny County Health Department, Air Quality Program, 301 39th St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201.

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