PENNSYLVANIA: Air Pollution Costs U.S. Steel $1.5 Million

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, May 17, 2022 (ENS) – The U.S. Steel Corporation, a major steelmaker, will pay a $1.5 million penalty and make extensive improvements at its steel production facility in Braddock, Pennsylvania, as part of a settlement announced today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Allegheny County Health Department for longstanding air pollution violations.

The settlement addresses Clean Air Act violations dating back to 2016 at the steelmaking facility known as Edgar Thomson Works, that occupies about 250 acres about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and employs about 900 workers.

The one-mile radius around the suburban facility is an area of potential environmental justice concern, exceeding the state average for the percentage of low-income populations and for minority populations, according the EPA.

The settlement announced today includes a supplemental environmental project in which U.S. Steel will provide $750,000 in funding to the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development for creation of a multimodal connection trail for hikers and bicyclists that will create another connection to communities near U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Works.

“EPA is committed to protecting air quality in communities by ensuring companies follow the rules to protect public health,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “Too often we find that residents in closest proximity to contaminated lands are impacted by environmental injustice, suffering cumulative health impacts and economic distress. Settlements like this serve notice to companies that they must follow the law to keep workers and neighbors healthy and safe.”

“Everyone has the right to clean air and the Allegheny County Health Department continues to work to ensure that right for all residents,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “This settlement is another step toward that goal in Braddock and surrounding communities, many of which are designated environmental justice communities.”

“We are pleased that a large portion of the Health Department’s share of the civil penalty will directly benefit Braddock and other Mon Valley communities that experience a disproportionate share of the environmental impact of the pollution this consent decree concerns,” she said.

Under the settlement, U.S. Steel is required to make improvements in training, monitoring and work practices to increase compliance and timely response to air pollution. Additionally, the company must conduct studies on potential improvements to its pollution control systems.

The primary pollutant of concern is particulate matter, including the tiny particles known as PM 2.5 that pose the greatest risk to health. Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Some particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into the lungs and bloodstream, causing acute respiratory distress, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, and lung cancer.

Although the Pittsburgh area, which includes Braddock, continues to be plagued by air quality issues that face many metropolitan areas, the ACHD announced in April that for the second year in a row, Allegheny County has met federal air quality standards for PM2.5 at the eight air quality monitors that it monitors around the city.

Featured image: Hazy polluted air surrounds U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson Steel Works as seen from George Westinghouse Bridge, Braddock, Pennsylvania. August 9, 2018 (Photo by Myrichiehaynes via Wikipedia)

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