U.S. Steel May Have to Idle Coke Ovens due to Pollution Concerns

U.S. Steel May Have to Idle Coke Ovens due to Pollution Concerns

The U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works is appealing an enforcement order that was decided against it. If they lose, two of the worst performing batteries at the location would become idle and stop producing coke. This could end up costing U.S. Steel $400 million. These two batteries are a small part of the Coke Works’ large facility which houses 10 coke batteries containing 208 coke ovens. A lawyer for U.S. Steel is claiming that the company worked with the health department for decades to reduce emissions but the relationship changed in June and the health department’s actions were unlawful and unreasonable. The health department’s attorney responded saying the penalties given were legal and the results wanted are attainable.

This is not the first time that Clairton Coke Works has been fined or had enforcement actions taken against it. It has had consistently poor air quality regulation violations and has had to pay more than $4 million under terms of enforcement actions in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2016. This past October Clairton Coke Works was fined $620,000 for poor air quality. Liberty air monitor, which is downwind from the Coke Works, is the only county monitor that does not attain federal air quality standards for microscopic particulates (called PM 2.5).

PM 2.5 particulates are dangerous because they can be breathed deeply into the lungs and then enter the bloodstream. This can cause or make respiratory and cardiovascular diseases worse. Liberty Monitor’s PM 2.5 readings began increasing in 2014, primarily coming from Clairton Coke Works. The PM 2.5 particulates contain carcinogens including benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene. Sulfur dioxide was also found at higher levels at Liberty Monitor in 2017, in amounts higher than the federal standard. Sulfur dioxide is source specific, which means it is easy to trace back to Clairton Coke Works. The health department is hoping that Clairton Coke Works can reduce emissions and violations like it has done in the past.

If you think you have been exposed to benzene and now have acute myeloid leukemia or another blood-related cancer, Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. may be able to help. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.

Don Hopey, “Testimony begins in U.S. Steel appeal of coke works enforcement order” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (December 4, 2018). [Link]

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