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  • Writer's pictureValley Clean Air Now

April 1, 2023 Clairton Walk

Around 10 folks joined Germaine Gooden-Patterson , Qiyam Ansari and myself to get a better idea of what goes on in the Clairton Coke Works (CCW). The largest group was from the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh in Shadyside. The weather was perfect. Our idea was to help people from outside the Five Boroughs to see and learn about the CCW by walking on the Glassport-Clairton Bridge while talking with VCAN members.

The Five Boroughs consist of Port Vue, Liberty, Glassport, Lincoln and Clairton. These are the municipalities that receive monies from the Community Benefit Trust Fund (CBTF). The CBTF was created in June, 2019 as result of an agreement between US Steel and the Allegheny County Health Department.

The large scale of the coal yards is clear as you cross the bridge because the coal is on both sides of the bridge. Once you are over the Monongahela River, you can better observe the coal barge traffic and the coal unloader, pulverizing and blending buildings.

We returned to our cars and then drove south on State Street and parked one more time in the Montour Trail lot. From here we had a better view directly into the coal side yard. We could make out where Batteries 20 and 19 were while watching the quench towers emit their white steam.

I told everyone what my friend, who worked at CCW for 5 years told me. "Remember inside every steam molecule is one piece of coal dust." Thanks to everyone who participated. Here are some of their comments:

"The trip was very informative to me. There is nothing like seeing it for yourself. The magnitude of the Clairton Coke works was stunning. I was amazed by all that coal on the site, soon to be burned, and how much is burned each day.”

“When I learned that there was newer, coal free technology, and that US Steel was building or has built the better facility in another state, I felt angry that they were polluting in PA at the expense of the health of the residents especially when improvement in their old plant could make the air cleaner.”

“I appreciated learning of the steps planned by VCAN to address the problems. They give one hope that there can be improvement.”

“My husband...doesn’t usually like tours/lectures — but he enjoyed this and learned a lot.”

Tom Bailey VCAN Secretary

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