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County Orders U.S. Steel To Reduce Air Pollution In Mon Valley

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Allegheny County Health Department says coke oven gas and sulfur dioxide emissions from three U.S. Steel facilities in the Mon Valley are endangering public health.

The three plants are the Edgar Thomson works in Braddock, the Irvin Plant in West Mifflin, and the Clairton Coke Works in Clairton.

The enforcement order says U.S. Steel must reduce its coke oven gas and daily SO2 emissions across all facilities.

The order comes after a major Christmas Eve fire at the Clairton Coke Works and reports in the days and weeks following that there was a spike of pollution into the atmosphere, elevated levels that far exceeds the permitted amounts.

Recently, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who lives across the street from the Braddock ET works toured the facility, and said the area was safe for his young children and that repairs should be completed by May.

But health department officials said, until the repairs were done, the steel corporation had to implement one of the following methods to reduce air pollution: reduce the volume of coal in each coke oven; extending coking times; idle some of the coke oven batteries, or propose their own plan to reduce SO2 emissions.


Jim Kelly, Allegheny County's deputy director of environmental health, spoke with KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

"We cannot stand by, once we received the information knowing the magnitude of these emissions," Kelly said. "They went from about 13,000 pounds a day that they were allowed, which -- they were actually emitting a fraction of that, to over 70,000 pounds per day. That is something we can't ignore. That is affecting public health, and so we need to ask them to take action to reduce that."

KDKA reached out to U.S. Steel for their reaction, and they say they are currently reviewing the enforcement order.

The company also said they will continue to work with everyone "to achieve our common goal of protecting our shared environment and the jobs of thousands of skilled Mon Valley Works employees who manufacture world-class steel products and that have been the pride of the Pittsburgh region for generations."

Again, the order does allow U.S. Steel to come up with their own plan to reduce the pollution.

No word yet on what that might be.

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