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Natrona-Based HARSCO Again Penalized for Fugitive Slag Emissions, Air Quality Violations

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) on Jan. 15 issued a demand for stipulated penalties in the amount of $4,500 to Harsco Corp. following residents’ complaints about dust on their cars that emanated from its Natrona-based slag processing operations.

The demand indicated Harsco (which processes slag from ATI’s steel plant in Brackenridge) violated the county’s Air Pollution Control regulations three times between Oct. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.

According to ACHD, an investigation revealed that the dust observed on residents’ vehicles was consistent with slag fugitive emissions from Harsco.  

A previous investigation by the health department determined that the dust was primarily lime. Inhaling lime dust may lead to irritation of breathing passages, coughing, and sneezing.

How did ACHD come up with the amount of the penalty? A Jan. 7, 2020 consent agreement between ACHD, ATI, and Harsco set a penalty of $1,500 per violation.

Harsco had 30 days from the date of the demand to submit payment to ACHD.

You can read more about the consent agreement – which required that the companies construct a building to enclose slag operations as well as pay a $107,000 civil penalty – on our blog

“Through a RTK request we were able to determine that the application for the enclosed slag operation has been received by the ACHD, ” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “We look forward to the health department putting the draft installation permit out for public comment so that we can review.”

This is the third quarter during which ACHD issued a demand for stipulated penalties against ATI and Harsco. The department issued a $6,000 demand on Aug. 20 for violations made between April 30 and June 30, 2020. Then on Oct. 20, the department demanded another $7,500 for similar violations.

In a separate enforcement action, ACHD on July 30 assessed a $1,320 civil penalty against ATI for an opacity violation that occurred July 7, 2019 and was brought to light in a semi-annual report the company submitted to the department on Jan. 30, 2020.

You can read the entire Notice of Violation here. 

Editor’s Note: While the demand for stipulated penalties was issued Jan. 15, the document was not made available on the ACHD website until Tuesday, March 9.

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