PITTSBURGH -- The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) held a virtual public hearing Wednesday night on proposed revisions to the County’s Coke Oven Regulations, which are the key environmental protections governing U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works. More than 50 local residents, including more than 25 PennEnvironment volunteers, testified in support of the County’s proposal to improve inspection practices and clarify limits for sulfur pollution, a respiratory irritant. Residents also urged for even stronger emissions reductions.
The Clairton Coke Works is one the worst of Allegheny County’s Toxic Ten, a group of industrial facilities collectively responsible for more than 70 percent of all the industrial air pollution released in Allegheny County.
Zachary Barber, the clean air advocate for PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, issued the following statement:
“When these new environmental protections were announced, we knew U.S. Steel and its special interest allies were going to fight back hard, so PennEnvironment and local residents launched into action to respond even louder in support of clean air.
“More than 50 local residents joined the hearing to call for action cleaning up the Clairton Coke Works. Except for those with financial ties to the facility, every single speaker supported ACHD’s proposal and urged our clean air watchdogs to go even further to rein in toxic emissions.
“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air, yet for more than 3 hours, resident after resident told heartbreaking stories of family members lost to pollution-related diseases like asthma and of children unable to breathe from asthma. This is unacceptable.
“It is plain to see that the Clairton Coke Works has, for years, poisoned our air with impunity. By improving inspection practices and clarifying existing pollution limits, ACHD’s proposed rules would make it easier to hold U.S Steel accountable. While this is a welcome step in the right direction, I urge the county to go even further. Local leaders must also protect residents' health by reducing toxic benzene emissions and other unsafe pollution from this facility.”
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is an environmental non-profit dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit www.pennenvironmentcenter.org