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GASP Weighs in on Allegheny County Health Department’s Draft Air Quality Monitoring Network Plan

The Group Against Smog and Pollution on Wednesday submitted comments on the Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD’s) draft 2021 air monitoring network.

Our comments can be read in their entirety here. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. GASP supports the establishment of a National Air Toxics Trends Station in Lawrenceville but noted that ACHD must address ancillary issues regarding the move. GASP expressed concern over access to data and noted that there should be an analysis of the need for continued air toxics monitoring downtown. We also questioned whether the methodology used to collect data at the Lawrenceville monitor will be mirrored at the Liberty monitor.
  2. GASP recommended that ACHD undertake a comprehensive air monitoring program at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works. “Despite over forty years of regulations and research aimed at reducing human exposure to benzene, EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory data show U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke facility emitted over 30,000 pounds of benzene via stack and fugitive emissions in 2018, making it far and away the largest stationary source in Allegheny County,” GASP’s legal counsel noted. “Not coincidentally, ACHD reported that the average benzene concentration and 24-hour maximum benzene concentration at the Liberty monitor site in 2018 were both 19 times higher than the levels at the Avalon monitoring site. That same report showed that through August 10, 2019, the average benzene concentration for 2019 at Liberty was 60 percent higher than it was in 2018. GASP recommended the department implement something similar to DEP’s benzene monitoring program around the now-shuttered Erie Coke plant.
  3. GASP is supportive of Avalon’s hydrogen sulfide monitor being redeployed in North Braddock. Hydrogen Sulfide is a regular problem in the Mon Valley and we believe this move will provide useful data.
  4. GASP maintained that ACHD must post its 2020 five-year monitoring network assessment and make it available for public comment and extend public comment on both it and the 2021 Air Monitoring Network draft.
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