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Shenango Reimagined Advisory Council, Residents Meet to Discuss Reuse of Former Shenango Coke Site

Residents and local officials packed into a Robert Morris University Island Sports Center meeting room Wednesday to discuss and help develop a vision for the reuse of the former Shenango Coke Works site in Neville Township. Residents heard from various speakers during the more than two-hour meeting, where they had an opportunity to review artist renderings, ask questions and provide input.

Redevelopment of the former Shenango site has the potential to economically and environmentally impact more than 18,000 residents combined in Neville Township, Avalon, Ben Avon, Bellevue and Emsworth—and as many as 70,000 Pennsylvania residents living within a three-mile radius of the site.

Members of the Shenango Reimagined Advisory Council held the event in conjunction with the Delta Group, a firm specializing in the redevelopment of brownfield sites that received grant funding. Delta Institute spearheaded the effort and convened the regional group—one that met several times over the past year to create guiding principles for the revisioning of the site, as well as a list of 20 possible future uses.

Those guiding principles call for a green, sustainable redevelopment of the site. The group stressed that they wanted to prioritize uses that had low or medium impacts on the environment. Two things were made clear: Fracking was not a welcome use of the site, and a company requiring a Title V air quality permit was not desired. Organizers noted that Neville Township is already home to four businesses that require a Title V.

For those who are unfamiliar: Title V permits are required for major sources of emissions – companies that have the potential to emit at least 100 tons per year of any air pollutant, 10 tons per year of any single hazardous air pollutant, or 25 tons per year of any combination of hazardous air pollutants.

One member of the advisory council, Dan Lenz, told attendees that while jobs and economic development is an important factor when considering the site’s reuse, “we cannot forget about the environmental impact.” He added that the current owner of the former Shenango property, DTE Energy, which asked for updates on the process as it proceeded. The company also requested a copy of the final report.

Various public officials from nearby communities attended the meeting, as did several county and state representatives. Absent, though, were any officials from Neville Island, to the chagrin of township residents in attendance there.

Event organizers asked attendees to get and stay involved, to call and write their representatives to tell them that an environmentally friendly reuse of the site was paramount.

“Thank you for coming,” a Delta representative told those gathered. “Please use your voice.”

A final revisioning report is expected to be issued Feb. 28. Those who would like to provide feedback, obtain more information on the process, or be placed on the group’s email list are asked to contact Margaret Renas at mrenas@delta-institute.

Editor’s Note: Shenango Coke Works shut down operations in 2016 following emissions issues at the site and associated legal action—some of which GASP initiated. You can find out more about the events leading up to the closure and how the shuttering of operations helped improve local air quality on our blog.

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