US Steel fined $ 1.5 million and obliged to improve air pollution control | News | Pittsburgh

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US Steel will pay a $ 1.5 million fine and “make significant improvements” in response to air pollution violations at the Edgar Thomson Works plant in Braddock, according to a recent report decree of consent, the result of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Allegheny County Department of Health against the company. Earlier this year, US Steel reported it net income in the last quarter of 2021 exceeded $ 1 billion.

Early last week, the EPA and ACHD filed a lawsuit against US Steel for violating the Clean Air Act, which dates back to 2016 at their steel plant in Braddak. A decree of consent is a settlement of a legal dispute that allows a conflict to be resolved without imposing guilt or responsibility.

The EPA and ACHD release also notes that Edgar Thomson’s air pollution violations are an “area of ​​potential environmental justice concern” because the percentage of low-income and “minority” people living within one mile of Edgar Thomson is above the national average.

“Too often, we find that residents in close proximity to contaminated lands are exposed to environmental injustice, suffering cumulative health and economic disasters,” says EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “Such settlements serve as a notice to companies that they must comply with the law to maintain the health and safety of workers and neighbors.”

In addition to the $ 1.5 million fine, the release says US Steel also “needs to make many improvements in training, monitoring and work practices to increase compliance and timely response to air pollution. In addition, the company is tasked with conducting research on potential improvements to its pollution control systems. ”

Patrick Campbell, executive director of the Smog and Pollution Control Group (GASP), is pleased that the settlement introduces new requirements for preparation, monitoring and reporting, but criticizes vague statements about what will happen next.

“Once the research is complete, you can guess what they’ll need and if the EPA needs to make changes,” Campbell says. Pittsburgh City Newspaper. “This leaves GASP with serious concerns about when and if the consent decree will lead to significant emission reductions at Edgar Thomson’s plant.”

However, Zachary Barber, a clean air advocate with PennEnvironment, says City newspaper that the settlement could portend good for other groups, such as his own, that hold US Steel accountable for other alleged violations.

Barber says the settlement “further documents the pervasive, long-standing nature of compliance issues at all US Valley Mon Valley Works … US Steel has been forced to allow several external auditors at ET to assess and overhaul its environmental compliance – the same remedy we seek for Clarton in our lawsuit because US Steel has proven incapable of operating and servicing these plants on its own. ”

A US Steel spokesman says the company is dedicated to the environment.

“We believe that at this time it is in the interest of all parties to resolve this issue and move forward with our environmental priorities,” said US Steel spokeswoman Amanda Malkowski. “US Steel and its more than 3,000 employees, who live and work in Mon Valley communities, remain committed to environmental governance and community.”

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period beginning on Tuesday, May 24th. A copy of the decree and information on how to submit comments can be found here.

“We hope that residents will take this opportunity to express their views on whether the deal is doing enough to bring US Steel to justice for air pollution problems that have harmed their health and quality of life,” Campbell says. “GASP will provide comments and is committed to doing its utmost to help strengthen the voices and experiences of our neighbors in the Mont Valley.”

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