The country's largest coke plant, a notorious air polluter located just a few miles south of Pittsburgh, is coming under ever increasing pressure to finally clean up its act.

On May 3, PennEnvironment’s newly filed Clean Air Act lawsuit against U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works plant received a strong shot in the arm when the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) filed a motion to join our case as a co-plaintiff. PennEnvironment and the Clean Air Council, represented by our legal team at the National Environmental Law Center, are suing U.S. Steel for thousands of violations of the Clean Air Act following a Dec. 24 fire at the Clairton plant.

The ACHD moved to intervene in the case just before a second fire broke out at the Clairton plant, knocking out its air pollution controls for the second time in six months. Uncontrolled pollution had spewed into surrounding neighborhoods for nearly four solid months after the Dec. 24 incident. 

“Yet another fire at this aging facility further underscores the dangers of allowing U.S. Steel to continue to operate what amounts to a doomsday machine that cannot be turned off when pollution controls are knocked off-line,” said Ashleigh Deemer, PennEnvironment’s western Pennsylvania director. "The residents of the Mon Valley deserve clean air, not more illegal pollution from U.S. Steel.”

Photo: U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works plant. Credit: Roy Luck via Flickr, CC-BY 2.0.