US Steel Pollution in the Mon Valley
The city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region have long been known for its industry, but in recent years, residents and environmental groups have grown increasingly concerned about the elevated levels of benzene pollution coming from, three U.S. Steel plants in the Mon Valley: Irvin Works, Clairton Coke Works, and Edgar Thomson.
Benzene is a known carcinogen, and exposure to high levels of the chemical can cause a variety of health problems, including anemia, leukemia, and other blood disorders. Despite this, reports indicate unacceptable high levels of benzene in their air and water for years, and now local residents are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action.
According to a recent report by StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration between NPR and local public media stations, U.S. Steel has been the source of numerous benzene releases in the region over the past decade. In one incident in 2019, the company released more than 2,000 pounds of the chemical into the air, prompting a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents. The company has also been cited for multiple violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act in recent years.
One solution that has been proposed is for the EPA to require U.S. Steel to install more advanced pollution control technology at its facilities. This technology, known as Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), is designed to capture and reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants like benzene. By requiring U.S. Steel to install this technology, the EPA would be able to significantly reduce the amount of benzene released into the air and water by the company.
Another solution that has been proposed is for the EPA to work with U.S. Steel to develop a comprehensive monitoring and reporting program for benzene emissions. This program would involve the installation of monitoring equipment at U.S. Steel facilities and regular reporting of emissions data to the EPA and local residents. This would allow for a more accurate picture of the extent of the benzene pollution problem in the Pittsburgh region and would also help to hold U.S. Steel accountable for its emissions.
Mon Valley residents deserve to live and breathe clean air, and the EPA & U.S. Steel have a responsibility to protect residents’ health and the environment. The potential health risks of benzene pollution are too great to ignore, and it is imperative that the EPA takes immediate action to reduce the levels of this toxic chemical in the Pittsburgh region.
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