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BREAKING: Allegheny County Health Department Issues Enforcement Order Against U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works

UPDATED March 13, 2019:

Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced March 12 that it has revised its enforcement order issued February 28th against U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works (Edgar Thompson Plant, Irvin Plant and Clairton Coke Works).

The action was taken in response to the plan submitted by U.S. Steel on March 7. Per the revised order (http://bit.ly/2F7uqft), U.S. Steel is required to implement the following at its Clairton Coke Works facility:

• Extend coking times to 27 hours at all batteries by March 23, 2019.

• By April 1, 2019, install six axial compressors and start testing compressors.

• Have 100 percent desulfurization back online by April 15, 2019.

The Allegheny County Health Department on Thursday announced that it has issued an enforcement order against U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works facilities—including Edgar Thompson Plant, Irvin Plant and Clairton Coke Works—for continued Article XXI permit violations for daily sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions after a December 24 fire occurred at the Clairton Coke Works.

In a press release the ACHD said U.S. Steel must reduce its use of coke oven gas and its daily SO2 emissions across all Mon Valley facilities, including the Peachtree flare at the Irvin Plant, through one or more of the following ways until the repairs at the Clairton Coke Works are complete, or June 30, 2019, whichever comes later:

  • Reducing the volume of coal in each coke oven
  • Further extending coking times from 22 hours to 30-36 hours
  • Putting as many coke oven batteries as necessary under “hot idle” to achieve compliance with the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emission standard; and/or
  • Proposing its own plan to reduce SO2 emissions with demonstrated ability to comply with the daily permitted limit for its facilities.

U.S. Steel must notify the Health Department of its decision within five (5) days and will also be required to provide weekly data demonstrating compliance.

ACHD Deputy Director of Environmental Health Jim Kelly said:

“After extensive analysis of data provided by U.S. Steel, the Health Department has determined that the most recent SO2 exceedance in the Mon Valley on February 4 was directly related to the lack of desulfurization at the Clairton Coke Works.”

He continued:

“Data provided to us since the exceedance at the North Braddock monitor showed that the amount of SO2 being emitted daily from these three facilities far exceeds what is allotted in the individual Title V operating permits. It also provided further evidence of elevated SO2 beyond what is being identified at our monitors. To get the plant back into compliance, and to protect the health of the public, it was essential to prepare and issue this evidence-based order. We are also requiring the implementation of further mitigation strategies necessary to comply with permitted emission limits that were set for the protection of public health.”

The release noted that all civil penalties for permit and Article XXI Air Pollution Control violations related to the fire and its aftermath will be levied against U.S. Steel once repair work is completed at the Clairton Coke Works.

It also explained that the enforcement order is separate from all previous enforcement orders, including both the 2016 consent order and the 2018 enforcement order issued against the Clairton Coke Works. The 2016 consent order remains in effect until March 24, 2019. The 2018 enforcement order remains in the appeals process.

“We are pleased that ACHD is taking action to curb sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide pollution from US Steel’s operations in the Mon Valley, and hopefully to bring the air in Mon Valley into compliance with federal and state ambient air quality standards,” GASP senior attorney John Baillie said. “We will continue to monitor the results of this latest enforcement action to make sure the required measures are sufficient to achieve compliance with those health-based standards.”

 

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