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GASP Delivers Widely-Supported Petition to ACHD Demanding Public Update on Emissions Issues at U.S. Steel Facility

Media Contact:
Amanda Gillooly
GASP Communications Manager
amanda@gasp-pgh.org/ 412-924-0604

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

GASP Delivers Widely-Supported Petition to ACHD Demanding Public Update on Emissions Issues at U.S. Steel Facility 

Signed by nearly 600 residents & 16 local organizations, it asks for an update on a compliance plan for the Edgar Thomson plant promised back in 2017.

PITTSBURGH – The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) today delivered a petition to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) signed by nearly 600 people and 16 local organizations calling for a substantive public update regarding ongoing emissions events at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson plant, as well as information on a compliance plan promised by the department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following a 2017 joint notice of violation.

The call to action comes in the wake of recent emissions events at the Braddock-based facility, as well as a June 1 enforcement order related to visible emissions violations there.

GASP’s petition asks the health department for a substantive update on the long-promised compliance plan, which was supposed to detail what financial penalties would be assessed against U.S. Steel, as well as what equipment and operational upgrades would be required to bring Edgar Thomson back into compliance.

“While ACHD acknowledged a reddish-brown plume emanating from the plant in June, telling the public it was investigating the incident and later revealing that a faulty valve was to blame, nothing further has been publicly stated about air quality compliance at Edgar Thomson,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippin said.  “What reassurance does the public have that this won’t happen again?”

And enough is enough.

“The public has waited long enough for an update on this public health issue, which impacts the day-to-day lives of our neighbors living in the communities surrounding the plant, those downwind of it, and everyone in between,” she said. “ACHD officials have repeatedly asked residents to be patient; to trust the process. But without transparency, there can be no trust. They must provide a detailed update as soon as possible.”

North Braddock resident Edith Abeyta agreed.

“We are told there needs to be more evidence. In addition to me and my neighbors there are hundreds of professionals and universities that are working on gathering enough proof – enough evidence – to back up the centuries-long lived experience that we are being harmed,” she said. “The sources of pollution are known. It is time for citizens to regain control of their air, water, time and health.”

East Pittsburgh Borough Councilwoman Stacey Simon said the importance of a public update is paramount.

“It’s a no-brainer to me: Breathing is essential to human life. The activities going on at the Edgar Thomson Works impact the quality of air that we breathe,” she said. “Knowledge is power, and we deserve to know more — so that we can do more — about the ongoing emissions issues at Edgar Thompson.”

Lisa Graves Marcucci, a lifelong resident of the Mon Valley and Pennsylvania Community Outreach Coordinator at the Environmental Integrity Project said it’s long past time that U.S. Steel be held accountable for the ongoing emissions at Edgar Thomson.

“We’ve waited too long for health to be the priority,” she said. “ The Allegheny County Health Department needs to stop coddling this company and get to work protecting public health and seeking the remedies outlined in the 2017 compliance plan.”

Clean Air Council said the public deserves better.

“ACHD owes it to the public to be transparent about its progress on a plan for ensuring U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson facility complies with the Clean Air Act,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “Allegheny County residents, especially those affected by air pollution from this facility, deserve nothing less.”

The organizations that signed onto the petition were 3 Rivers Outdoor Co., Allegheny County Clean Air Now, Breath Project, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, East End Neighbors Concerned About Air Pollution, Environmental Integrity Project, Lawrenceville Clean Air Now, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, North Braddock Residents for Our Future, Patagonia, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, PennFuture, Plant Five For Life, Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh and Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.

You can read the petition in its entirety on the GASP website.

GASP  is a nonprofit citizens’ group in Southwestern PA working for a healthy, sustainable environment. Founded in 1969, GASP has been a diligent watchdog, educator, litigator, and policy-maker on environmental issues, with a focus on air quality in the Pittsburgh region.

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