U.S. Steel fights $1M fine from Health Department for Clairton pollution

August 4, 2018

U.S. Steel employees and visitors tour the C Battery during opening day ceremonies Jan. 31, 2013 for the new facility at Clairton Coke Works.

U.S. Steel is fighting a $1 million fine the Allegheny County Health Department issued for air pollution at its Clairton Coke Works plant.

The $1 million fine, issued last month, was due Monday, according to department officials.

The company Friday filed an administrative appeal and petition for stay for the entire order, according to Michael Parker, health department solicitor.

To file the appeal, the company had to pay the $1 million fine, but it is being kept in the department’s escrow account and cannot be spent until the appeal is resolved, Parker said.

If a stay is granted, the rest of the department’s requirements included in the order would also be on hold until the appeal is resolved, Parker said.

The department’s enforcement action would require the company to submit a comprehensive assessment of its coke batteries, including details of all current emissions and a proposal of how it plans to reduce future sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and visible emissions, Parker said.

If compliance rates do not improve in six months, the department’s enforcement action includes plans to order the two worst-performing batteries at the Clairton facility to shut down.

A U.S. Steel spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.

A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Health Department’s Clack Building 7, Parker said. It will be open to the public.

Clairton Coke Works is the largest byproducts coke plant in North America and the only remaining coke plant in the county. The plant operates 10 coke batteries and produces about 10,000 tons of coke per day.

The $1 million fine is a result of a more strict civil penalties policy the department adopted. The department is also working to enact stricter rules for coke plants, department officials said earlier this month.

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