Hotline, Winter 2000
GASP is currently pursuing its interests in three court cases involving environmental pollution by local industries.
In the most recent case, the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Steel announced late in 1999 that USX would pay penalties of $550,000 for violations at the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock. This consent decree came as a surprise to the public and to GASP, which had previously served as a court-approved intervenor in a similar case involving the Edgar Thomson steel production works. GASP then filed comments with the court during the required 30-day comment period.
[See the Letter to the Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by President Marie Kocoshis protesting the secrecy of this proceeding and of the difficulty of enforcing the consent decrees involving the Edgar Thomson Works.]
In a case dating back to last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Shenango, Inc. (the Neville Island coke producer), are currently working out a consent decree in U. S. District Court here. The decree would stipulate the penalties to be incurred by Shenango for its repeated violations of emissions regulations. The amount of the penalties and other stipulations had yet to be announced as of this writing.
The EPA’s suit against Shenango followed a GASP announcement of its intention to sue the coke producer, which in turn was followed by an announcement by Clean Water Action that it was joining the GASP suit. The EPA action preempted the suit by the environmental groups.
The U. S. District Court here recently denied a request for intervention in this case by lawyers representing both groups.
GASP will continue to recommend Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) to the Court in hopes that the parties can eventually agree on including such projects in the final settlement. Projects discussed to date include a health monitoring program, enhanced monitoring of airborne pollutants, training neighbors in doing monitoring of emissions, an audit of full compliance by Shenango, and the creation of an environmental oversight panel containing representatives of Shenango, government agencies, and community groups. In a third case, dating back to 1998, the EPA, with GASP as an intervenor, is suing LTV, Inc., for accumulated pollution violations at its Hazelwood coke plant before it closed in that year. Currently GASP, in the discovery phases of the suit, is furnishing LTV with evidence of damage caused to members of GASP by its coke-related emissions.
Kocoshis urged all GASP members of the area who suffered damage or inconvenience from the LTV Hazelwood plant’s coke emissions to report them to GASP so that they could become part of the record in the case.
by David Fowler, GASP Board Member