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U.S. Steel Fined Nearly $13K for (Again) Violating Air Quality Regulations – Health Dept. Said Company Failed to Report Equipment Breakdown

Allegheny County Health Department has issued two enforcement orders against U.S. Steel for violating local air pollution regulations – violations that led to ACHD assessing nearly $13,000 in civil penalties.

A Jan. 25 enforcement order posted to the ACHD website Tuesday evening detailed a failed Oct. 19, 2019 stack test at Clairton Coke Works’ C Battery where emissions for filterable particulate matter exceeded the limit established in U.S. Steel’s installation permit. The equipment was retested on Feb. 27, 2020, and again demonstrated failure to comply. A second retest conducted on June 16, 2020 indicated compliance.

ACHD assessed a civil penalty of $8,800.

On Feb. 19 the health department issued a second enforcement order against U.S. Steel – this time for the company’s failure to submit a report about a May 26, 2020 equipment breakdown that led to “a release into the open air of approximately 100 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.”

A quick word on anhydrous ammonia: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a toxic chemical.

“Accidental ammonia releases cause injuries and death to employees, emergency response personnel, and people in surrounding communities,” the EPA wrote in a safety manual about the air toxic. “Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive, and exposure to it may result in chemical-type burns to skin, eyes, and lungs.” 

The enforcement order notes that county air pollution regulations require companies like U.S. Steel to report equipment failures that lead to open-air releases within 60 minutes.

ACHD noted that U.S. Steel notified both federal and state officials, but that “As of the date of this order, U.S. Steel  has not submitted a breakdown report…for the equipment failure.”

A civil penalty of $4,165 was assessed.

“These non-compliance issues with U.S. Steel are concerning but not surprising – we have seen a pattern of violations going back decades,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “The ongoing emissions issues and lack of transparency over equipment breakdowns – like the one that led to the high-profile 2019 fire – is shameful for a company that claims it ‘lives its core value of environmental stewardship.’

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  1. barbara lee pace says:

    I would value knowing the EXACT location of where the executives of U.S. Steel actually lay their heads down to sleep and where their children play each day outside. When Shenango’s was up and running full steam their management, N O N E resided in or near the Coke Works! They choose Butler County, and Westmoreland Counties. They know damn well what they are doing to our environment.

    I truly place no value on the dollar amount they are fined. It has never made a difference in the past. It never will out balance what their profits bring in so their incentive is to keep on keeping ON! Beyond frustrated . . . .barbara lee pace (Allegheny County Clean Air Now)

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