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U.S. Steel Issued Civil Penalty for Air Quality Violation Stemming from Clairton Coke Works Equipment Breakdown

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Jan. 6 to correct an error regarding the volume of air pollutants emitted during the five-hour period.

Perennial air polluter U.S. Steel was issued another civil penalty recently for violating the terms of its operating permit by allowing hundreds of pounds of air pollutants to be emitted following an equipment breakdown this past summer.

A Dec. 15 enforcement order posted to Allegheny County Health Department’s website Wednesday shows that a $5,500 fine was assessed for the Aug. 27 incident that sent these pollutants soaring into the atmosphere:

U.S. Steel on Aug. 27 reported to ACHD an obstruction in a standpipe of C Battery Oven C21, which caused the release of emissions from the charging hole for more than five hours. 

The NOV read:

“Based on U.S. Steel’s reporting of excess emissions resulting from the breakdown, ACHD has determined that U.S. Steel is in violation of Condition V.A.1.a of IP-011b, which states, “The permittee shall not operate C Battery coke ovens unless the PROven® System is installed and operating in such manner that the collector main is maintained at a negative pressure and each individual oven is maintained at the lowest positive pressure necessary to inhibit leaks of raw coke oven gas to the atmosphere from oven doors, charging port lids, and offtakes.”

A quick word about that civil penalty: $2,500 of it was assessed because of U.S. Steel’s history of air quality violations. The order indicated that nine notices of violation have been issued over the past two years.

For those who are saying to themselves out loud right now, “Wait, wait, wait, only $5,500?” we want you to know: We’re right there with you.

ACHD on Dec. 15 also took enforcement action against:

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  1. Nick says:

    US Steel will close the Mon Valley works as soon as the steel market returns to normal and dump Pennsylvania as a production site. USS has already ceased paying property taxes in and is showing all the signs of a major polluter preparing to cut and run. Government entities should be prepared to take possession of the USS properties immediately to commence pollution mitigation and clean up before the situation becomes any worse.

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