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Upcoming: Lincoln Boro Building, Tuesday, May 28 from 5 to 8 pm.

Health Survey Interviews & Air Filter Distribution/Education Event


Past News: VCAN Board & Friends Spoke to the Trust Distribution Board of the US Steel Community Benefit Trust on Thursday, May 23 at Liberty Borough Building seeking future funding for air filter distributions in Clairton, Glassport, Port Vue, Liberty and Lincoln.



Looking east at Clairton Coke Works from Clairton's Shaw Avenue in October, 2023. Photo by Tom Bailey


1.Members of the Health Survey and Air Filter Committees will be at the Lincoln Borough Building this Tuesday from 5 to 8 pm. The Lincoln Borough Building is located at 45 Abe's Way, Elizabeth, PA 15037.


Our Health Survey is only for adult residents of Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue, Glassport and Clairton and is intended to investigate the prevalence of various health conditions in our area. Over 50 local adults have already been interviewed.


The survey includes a 30 to 45-minute in-person or phone interview. Participants’ identity, personal info, and responses will be kept anonymous. Upon completing the survey, residents will be offered a $20 gift card for their time.



VCAN Board member, Fred Bickerton, introduces Mon Valley residents as to how their new LeVoit air purifier will clean their indoor air at our Clairton Distribution Event on February, 16, 2024. Photo by Tom Bailey


Fred Bickerton said "this will be VCAN's first, free air filter distribution in both Liberty or Lincoln Boroughs." VCAN has received private grant money to purchase air filters. Residents complete an air filter request form and return that form to Fred. So far, VCAN has distributed over 500 air filters to Mon Valley residents.


The benefits include:

  • by eliminating fine particles and pollutants like sulfur dioxide and benzene, indoor air purifiers reduce the risk of respiratory issues;

  • with their HEPA filters, air purifiers effectively capture and remove common allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander and mold spores.


For more information on either our Health Survey or Air Filters, call or contact Tom Bailey, VCAN Secretary at 412.614.0227. Our email is info@valleycleanair.com



2. Yesterday, VCAN Board Members and Friends spoke to the Trust Distribution Board (TDB) of US Steel's Community Benefit Trust at the Liberty Borough Building. Five TDB members were present including Rich Lattanzi from Clairton, Tammy Firda from Lincoln and Elaina Skiba from Glassport.


The US Steel Community Benefit Trust is the result of the company's June, 2019 Settlement with Allegheny County Health Department over pollution violations at Clairton Coke Works (CCW). As a result, US Steel was required to put 90% of a $2.7 million civil penalty towards supporting the "adjacent" communities that surround the CCW. The remaining 10% went to the County's Clean Air Fund.


“The Settlement Agreement requires that Trust distributions must benefit the Adjacent Communities or the local environment through supplemental projects, and ”CCW“ directs that such supplemental projects must be anticipated to improve, protect, or reduce the risk to public health or the environment."

"Such supplemental projects may include providing funding to improve physical community

infrastructure (such as the creation or renovation of parks, green spaces, or playground spaces), or fostering the creation or expansion of programs that are aimed at directly improving the well-being of residents, and need not be air quality-related, as long as an environmental and/or public health benefit can be recognized (the “Trust Purposes”).  Any project proposals submitted must demonstrate a reasonable probability that the project will be successful.” See US Steel Community Benefit Trust, Article I.


VCAN President Qiyam Ansari, Treasurer Fred Bickerton, Board members Germaine Gooden-Patterson, Johnie Perryman, Art Thomas, Dave & Cindy Meckel all addressed the TDB on these points:

  • our position on past TDB distributions not directly benefiting residents of Five Boroughs;

  • our experience with past and present air filter distributions; and

  • our desire to submit a proposal to TDB for funding/partnership for future air filter distributions to be considered at their August, 2024 meeting.

Liberty resident, Briana Gabriel, spoke of being very pleased with having received two air filters from VCAN. The filters have performed very well. In addition, Reverend Airgood from Clairton also spoke in support our proposal. Later in the meeting, he asked that TDB members explain some basic details to those in attendance about the projects that were approved for TDB funding or terminated from funding.


Tammy Firda from Lincoln Borough stated she was willing to "sit down" and discuss the possibility of our air filter program proposal. She made no promises. If you live in Clairton, Glassport, Port Vue, Liberty or Lincoln and you are enjoying cleaner indoor air now due to a VCAN air purifier, consider contacting your city or borough council members. Please comment on this article below or send us an email. Tom Bailey Secretary



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1. What is US Steel's Community Benefit Trust?

2. How is the Trust Distribution Board to distribute US Steel’s penalty money?

3. What is the Community Advisory Panel?

4. What will VCAN Board Members discuss with the Trust Distribution Board on May 23?

5. What can friends and contacts of VCAN do to help?


VCAN Air Filter Committee members Fred Bickerton and Dave Meckel explain how a LeVoit air purifier works to Mon Valley residents in the CEDCC Building in Clairton last February 16th. Photo by Tom Bailey


1. What is US Steel's Community Benefit Trust?


As a result of the 2018 Fire at US Steel's Clairton Coke Works (CCW), the Allegheny County

Health Department (ACHD) filed an Enforcement Action against US Steel.  In June, 2019 a Settlement Agreement was reached between US Steel and ACHD.  The Settlement Agreement was published on ACHD’s website for public comment.  ACHD required US Steel to pay substantial financial penalties for the contamination released during the 2018 Fire.


Some of the public comments ACHD received about the Settlement Agreement suggested the penalty money be given to the communities “adjacent” to CCW who suffer the most from the air pollution CCW releases.  On January 31, 2020, US Steel signed THE UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COMMUNITY BENEFIT TRUST (CBT), a trustee agreement with Smithfield Trust to hold penalty money US Steel paid to ACHD to be held in trust for the adjacent communities of Clairton, Glassport, Port Vue, Liberty and Lincoln.   This document also delegated the ability to spend these trust funds to the Trust Distribution Board (TDB).



VCAN Air Filter Committee Members Art Thomas and Fred Bickerton were distributing air purifiers to Mon Valley residents at the Glassport American Legion on April 24th. VCAN Board Member Germaine Gooden-Patterson spoke to residents about US Steel's Community Benefit Trust. Photo by Tom Bailey


2. How is the TDB to distribute US Steel’s penalty money held in the Community Benefit Trust?


“The Settlement Agreement requires that Trust distributions must benefit the Adjacent Communities or the local environment through supplemental projects, and US Steel directs

that such supplemental projects must be anticipated to improve, protect, or reduce the risk to public health or the environment.


Such supplemental projects may include providing funding to improve physical community

infrastructure (such as the creation or renovation of parks, green spaces, or playground spaces), or fostering the creation or expansion of programs that are aimed at directly improving the well-being of residents, and need not be air quality-related, as long as an environmental and/or public health benefit can be recognized (the “Trust Purposes”). 


Any project proposals submitted must demonstrate a reasonable probability that the project will be successful.” See CBT Trust, Article I.

 

As of 1-31-20, the CBT was divided, for accounting purposes, among the Five Boroughs. These were the allocated fund balances.  Percentage figures, said to be calculated by using Allegheny County data, were as follows: 

Clairton Fund:     26.73%

Glassport Fund: 19.91%

Liberty Fund       16.11%

Lincoln Fund       21.91%

Port Vue Fund   6.32%


The TDB is to consider and decide proposed funding requests made by the “adjacent” communities of Clairton, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue. 


Article III of the CBT spells out membership of the TDB and the purpose of their meetings includes:

“each such meeting will be for the purpose of considering and approving projects consistent with the Trust Purposes that are Proposed to be funded by the Trust. The Adjacent Communities shall be responsible for determining which projects will be presented to the Trust Distribution Board for consideration.”


Article IV discusses Distributions to Adjacent Communities:

“Each Adjacent Community may present to the Trust Distribution Board a slate of proposed

Projects that are consistent with the Trust Purposes. The deadline for a submission to

be considered at a scheduled meeting shall be 30 days before the scheduled meeting.”

 

Grant applications must be made on a specific form called the Common Grant Application Form.


During a TDB meeting:

“Each of the Adjacent Communities may invite any interested party to present and discuss

a Proposed Project, provided that at least one authorized representative of the organization sponsoring the Proposed Project shall be present at the meeting ‘considering the Proposed Project’.”

 

“At each meeting the TDB will ether grant or reject a Proposed Project that has been timely and properly submitted for consideration, will provide reasonable detail of the reasons for any rejection, and may require approved projects to be funded in stages or phases.”

 

Schedule of remaining 2024 TDB meetings:

 

Thursday, May 23, 2024, @ 7:00 pm - Liberty Borough @ 2921 Liberty Way, McKeesport, PA

Thursday, August 22, 2024, @ 7:00 pm – Lincoln Borough @ 45 Abe’s Way, Elizabeth, PA

Thursday, November 21, 2024, @7:00 pm - Glassport Borough @ 12 Monongahela Ave. Glassport, Pa.




On April 12, VCAN President Qiyam Ansari spoke to a rally of Clean Air Advocates and Allegheny County residents in front of the US Steel Building on Grant Street, Pittsburgh. US Steel shareholders voted to approve the sale of US Steel to Nippon Steel the same day. Photo by Tom Bailey



3. What is the Community Advisory Panel?


On February 5, 2020 US Steel and ACHD amended their Settlement Agreement by adding an Amendment.  Paragraph 2(b) of this Amendment to Settlement Agreement and Order obligated US Steel to complete specific improvements within the plant and to submit to five annual environmental air compliance audits at CCW. ACHD and US Steel are defined as the parties to this amendment. US Steel was to submit a final report of each audit to ACHD for review. In addition, US Steel agreed to submit a corrective plan to ACHD to address the audit findings.


Paragraph 2(i) created a second organization, called the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) that meets regularly.  The CAP is responsible to address the concerns of the adjacent communities. 


“The panel shall be composed of at least, one representative from US Steel and a local citizen and government official from each of Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue, Glassport Boroughs and the City of Clairton, if willing to serve. The purpose of the CAP is to ensure open and transparent communication between the parties and the nearby communities.”  Currently the CAP meets in US Steel facilities.



VCAN Air Filter Committee member, Johnie Perryman, speaking at the May, 2022 press event before an Allegheny County Health Department hearing at the Clairton Municipal Building. Photo by Mark Dixon


4. What will VCAN Board Members discuss with the Trust Distribution Board on May 23?

 

VCAN’s comments will involve the possible expansion of VCAN’s current indoor air filter distribution program.  VCAN purchased and distributed air filters in 2019 to Mon Valley residents.  In the Fall, 2023 and Spring of 2024, VCAN has once again distributed over 450 air filters to residents throughout the Mon Valley.

  

VCAN has purchased the air filters with private grant money.  Members of VCAN's Air Filter Committee (Committee) have received truck loads of filters and stored them.  The Committee has advertised the distribution events, received and recorded air filter request forms and then operated the air filter distribution/education events in Clairton and Glassport.  The Committee has another distribution/education event scheduled in Lincoln on May 28.

 

 Use of CBT funds to purchase indoor air purifiers certainly fits the purpose of spending US Steel's penalty money.  US Steel was fined millions of dollars because the 2018 Fire polluted the airshed of the Five Boroughs.  The fine money US Steel paid should be used to help these same residents breathe clean air inside their homes and businesses.  We are attempting to “improve, protect, or reduce the risk to public health” of these communities.  

 

In our experience to date, the needs of most families and individuals can be met by two $100 Levoit filters.  If each of the Five Boroughs sought to meet the needs of 600 families, $60,000 would purchase the filters for that community.

 

On May 23, VCAN Board Members will introduce these ideas to members of the TDB.  We will also explain our intentions in writing.  We will ask each of the Five Boroughs to consider partnering with VCAN by submitting a funding request to be considered at their next meeting this coming August 22 in Lincoln Borough at 7 pm. 

 

If successful, the Committee would work with their municipal partners to purchase the filters, store the filters, process air filter requests and hold air filter distribution/education events.  

 



Clairton Coke Works on March 3, 2024 from State Route 837. Photo by Tom Bailey



5. What can friends and contacts do to help VCAN?

 

As friends and contacts of VCAN, if you live in the Five Boroughs we ask you to tell your municipality of our plan.  If you think partnering with VCAN would be good for your neighbors, contact the TDB representative from your municipality and explain why.


Contact Tom Bailey VCAN Secretary at 412.614.0227 or info@valleycleanair.com . Our Website address is www.valleycleanair.com


Please forward this email to another who may be interested. If you do not want to receive further emails from VCAN let us know. 5-15-24

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Valley Clean Air Now Steering Committee Member Germaine Gooden-Patterson speaks to Allegheny County Health Department Public Meeting May, 2023 on Clairton Coke Works Title V permit.


Community and Air Quality Environmental Justice groups/advocates gather in front of the US Steel Building on Grant Street, this Friday 4-12 during U.S. Steel Stockholder Meeting of Stockholders to request a People's Vote for a healthier future in the Mon Valley.


A gathering of Community and Environmental Justice groups and advocates will gather in front of the US Steel Building, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, on April 12. The rally will coincide with the U.S. Steel Special Meeting of Stockholders to request a People's Vote for a healthier future in the Mon Valley.


The Rally Will Take Place Friday, April 12, from Noon to 2 PM on Grant and 6th Streets in front of the US Steel Building. Mon Valley residents and Environmental Justice advocates demand a seat at the table, #ProtectOurHealth, and a leadership commitment to a future that builds healthier communities in the Mon Valley that ensure clean air and water. 


Mon Valley residents and groups will speak throughout the hour of their wish to ensure that any vote of company shareholders hears the voice of impacted communities and stops the ongoing legacy of pollution and harm they have suffered.


To be clear, these advocates do not express a viewpoint on the sale itself. They do accept that a diversity of views may be shared on the sale of USS by workers and union members who may be present. 


They are expressing a concern and need to have their voices heard and addressed as part of a sale process that will majorly impact the communities where U.S. Steel facilities exist in the Mon Valley. A press release will be issued on the morning of April 12.





First VCAN Walking Tour of Clairton Coke Works with members of First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and Tree Pittsburgh April, 2023.


Public hearing in Elizabeth on the draft Title V federal air permit for the Synthomer (formerly Eastman) chemical plant in West Elizabeth Borough 4-18 at 6 pm.


The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has scheduled a public hearing on Thursday, April 18 to discuss the draft Title V federal air permit for the Synthomer (formerly Eastman) chemical plant. This public hearing is a rare opportunity for local voices to be heard. We are hoping to generate lots of interest in attending and participating during the hearing. The meeting will be held at the Elizabeth Event Center, 101 South 1st Avenue, Elizabeth, PA 15037.

 

Local residents are able to present written comments or oral testimony. Following paragraphs were written by the Allegheny County Health Department:


ALLEGHENY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT.The ACHD is seeking comments on the following draft permits. Members of the public may request copies of the documents by

emailing aqpermits@alleghenycounty.us or calling 412‐578‐8115. Written comments may be submitted to the Department at 836 Fulton Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15233 or by e‐mail at aqpermits@alleghenycounty.us by the end of the day on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

A public hearing will be held regarding the proposed issuance of these permits on Thursday April 18, 2024, at 6 pm at the Elizabeth Event Center, 101 South 1st Avenue, Elizabeth, PA 15037. Anyone who would like to speak at the hearing should register online at

least 24 hours in advance of the hearing on the Department’s permits webpage at https://alleghenycounty.us/AQnotices. If no one is registered to give testimony at the hearing by Monday, April 15, 2024, the hearing will be canceled. If the hearing is canceled, the

Department will provide public notice on the webpage or through the contact information listed above. When making comments on previously issued installation or operating permits being modified, please consider the modified language only. 


INTENT TO ISSUE MAJOR SOURCE (TITLE V) PERMITS

Under Article XXI, §2103.11.e. and §2103.21.c, notice is hereby given that the Allegheny County Health Department intends to issue a Title V Operating Permit to the following major facilities subject to the operating permit requirements under Title V of the Federal

Clean Air Act and Article XXI, Part C, Subparts 1 and 2. The Administrator of the EPA is being notified of this proposed action.

SYNTHOMER JEFFERSON HILLS (0058‐OP24), 2200 State Hwy. 837 PO Box 545 West Elizabeth, PA 15088, for the manufacture of hydrocarbon resins and dispersions used primarily in hot melt adhesives, rubber and plastic compounding, coatings, sealants, and

plastic modification. The resins are produced from C5 feedstock, monomers, solvents, and catalysts by way of cationic polymerization.

Resins produced include aliphatic, aliphatic/aromatic, aromatic, and liquids resins. Eastman Chemical Resins, Inc. acquired the Jefferson Site from Hercules, Inc. in 2001, and Synthomer acquired this facility from Eastman on April 1, 2022.

The proposed Title V operating permit contains all applicable regulatory requirements including monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting conditions. The permit includes requirements from 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart FF – Benzene Waste Operations, Part 63, Subpart FFFF ‐ Hazardous Air Pollutants: Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing (MON); Part 63, Subpart SS ‐ Closed Vent Systems, Control Devices, Recovery Devices, and Routing to a fuel gas system or a process; Part 63, Subpart UU ‐ National Emission Standard for Equipment Leaks; and Part 63, Subpart DDDDD – National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters. The facility is a major source of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and a minor source of particulate matter (PM), particulate matter less than 10 μm in diameter (PM10), particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), oxides of sulfur (SOX), and carbon monoxide (CO)

as defined in Article XXI, §2101.20.

The facility is also a minor source of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) as defined in the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule."

 

The hearing is scheduled for April 18th 6:00 pm at the Elizabeth Event Center, 101 South 1st Avenue, Elizabeth, PA 15037 



VCAN Steering Committee member Art Thomas presenting his comments to ACHD at May, 2023 Title V Permit hearing for Clairton Coke Works.


Tom Bailey VCAN Secretary 4-9-24

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