Archive

ShareThis Page
4 groups to sue ATI over Harrison air pollution issues | TribLIVE.com
News

4 groups to sue ATI over Harrison air pollution issues

Mary Ann Thomas
| Thursday, March 23, 2017 7:24 p.m
ptratilockout1111215
Allegheny Technologies Inc.
Allegheny Technologies Inc.'s Hot-Rolling and Processing Facility in Harrison.
VNDATIpollution121516
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Clean air activists say they intend to file suit over air pollution from Allegheny Technologies' newest mill in Harrison even though Allegheny County Health Department officials say the mill hasn't violated federal clean air standards.

Four environmental groups announced Thursday they plan to sue Allegheny Technologies Inc. for air pollution coming from its steel mill in Harrison.

The groups — the Clean Air Council, Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), Penn-Environment and Environmental Integrity Project — held a telephone press conference about what they describe as a major source of air pollution near Pittsburgh.

The federal Clean Air Act allows citizens to sue polluters, but they must serve notice at least 60 days in advance, which is what the environmental groups did Thursday.

The upcoming lawsuit centers on emissions from two electric arc furnaces that are used in the production of ATI’s specialty steel products in the older section of the Harrison steel mill.

GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said the company’s electric arc furnaces have been breaking air pollution laws for 15 years, and “we’ve all been breathing their illegal emissions.”

The two furnaces exceed the legal limits for nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, soot and carbon monoxide, according to the groups.

Those pollutants worsen smog and increase the risk of heart attacks, lung disease and asthma, they said.

Emissions ‘important’ if you live nearby

However, ATI is currently not violating any federal clean air standards, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

The arc furnaces aren’t the biggest air pollution emitter at the ATI plant, according to Jim Kelly, acting deputy director for the health department’s environmental health bureau.

“A power plant emits thousands of tons of pollution per year, where these furnaces are in the tens of tons,” he said.

The ATI plant is definitely a source of pollution, according to Kelly.

“It’s not huge, but it is important especially if you live in the communities near it.”

The arc furnace limits were set by the Alle-gheny Health Department in 2002 when they were installed as new equipment.

“There are no predetermined emission standards, so you have to guess,” Kelly said. “We made the limits too stringent.”

So the emission limits were revised upward for a new comprehensive permit known as a Title V permit, which codifies previous air emission permits for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

That increase in pollution limits in the new permit is what caused the environmental groups to sue the company, according to Patton Dycus, a senior attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project.

ATI declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the company is working with the Allegheny County Health Department on the new permit, which takes into account the many changes at the plant in at least the last decade, ATI spokesman Dan Greenfield said.

ATI replaced four older furnaces with the new arc furnaces in the early 2000s, according to Greenfield.

“The big picture is we invested in two new arc furnaces, closed the Natrona melt shop and we replaced a 50-year-old rolling mill,” he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.