(Clairton) – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is holding a public hearing tonight at 6:00 pm at the Clairton Municipal Building (551 Ravensburg Blvd., Clairton) concerning their proposed renewal of US Steel’s operating permit for the Clairton Coke Works. Members of Valley Clean Air Now (VCAN), a group of Mon Valley residents), will be speaking at the hearing urging ACHD to take steps to end the long history of pollution violations from the plant.
“Allowing USS Clairton Works to CONSISTENTLY violate their permit by issuing slap on the wrist fines and penalties are not protecting the Health of Residents,” stated Germaine Gooden-Patterson, a Clairton resident active with Valley Clean Air Now.
VCAN presented the following steps they want ACHD to take in US Steel’s permit:
A definitive enforceable date that US Steel will close the 70-year-old coke batteries 1, 2, and 3. US Steel has publicly stated it will close these batteries which have a high rate of violations, however, the company has a history of going back on its word.
Increased real-time monitoring of the plant so ACHD is not dependent on US Steel management to report emissions from the plant. ACHD has stated in court documents that they were not aware of the massive emissions following the December 2018 fire at the plant. The community should have access to all real-time emissions data.
US Steel should not be allowed to produce coke from their plant if pollution control equipment is inoperable (as occurred from December 2018 to April 2019). The permit should have an effective plan to reduce emissions on days when pollution levels exceed federal standards as required by ACHD’s Mon Valley Pollution Episode Rule.
Qiyam Ansari, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action stated, “We need to make sure we never repeat what happened in Clairton after the Christmas Eve fire in 2018. Mon Valley residents have consistently said that ACHD needs to clean up this plant or shut it down. We urge ACHD to listen to the community’s input to this permit.”
Na’Tisha Washington with OnePA stated, "The residents of the Mon Valley continuously suffer physically, economically, and emotionally from the dangerously high emissions US Steel puts in their air. We are continually ranking at the top for the highest PM2.5 pollution in the nation, which is a pollutant proven to negatively impact the health of residents, especially children, and seniors, but not enough has been done to address this health concern. It is the mission of ACHD "to protect, promote, and preserve the health and well-being of ALL Allegheny County residents, particularly the most vulnerable." So we ask you to stay true to that mission by making sure the Mon Valley resident's needs are a priority during your decision-making."
ACHD will be accepting public comment on their proposed renewal of US Steel’s operating permit for the Clairton Coke Works until March 15. Comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org