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Allegheny County Health Department Commits to Clear Permit Backlog After EPA Scrutiny

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Title V of the Clean Air Act requires that each major source of air pollution (as well as certain minor sources) have an operating permit that includes all of the air pollution law requirements that apply to the source.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is responsible for issuing such air quality permits to Title V sources in Allegheny County.

A Title V Operating Permit is good for a period of up to five years, but an air pollution source that submits a timely and complete permit application can continue to operate without a permit, or with an expired permit, until the issuing agency acts on the application. The Clean Air Act requires an issuing agency to take final action on an application for a Title V Operating Permit within 18 months of the application’s submittal.

We have blogged several times about the Allegheny County Health Department’s backlog of Title V Operating Permits. There are currently 32 Title V sources in Allegheny County, 26 of which are major sources of air pollution. Two of those major sources—Allegheny Ludlum Inc.’s Brackenridge Works and Eastman Chemicals & Resins in Jefferson Hills–have never been issued a Title V Operating Permit.

One of the non-major Title V sources of air pollution, Harsco, Inc. (which processes slag at Allegheny Ludlum’s Brackenridge Works), also has never been issued a Title V Operating Permit. An additional eight of Allegheny County’s major sources are operating on permits that have been expired for more than the 18 months allowed by the Clean Air Act.

As we’ve written, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reviewed ACHD’s Title V permitting program and directed ACHD to develop a plan to address its backlog of Title V permit applications. ACHD has published its plan. In a nutshell, to eliminate the backlog, ACHD has committed to adding necessary staff and publishing draft Title V Operating Permits for these sources before the end of 2018:

  1. Ashland, Inc.

  2. Buckeye Pipelines Coraopolis Terminal;

  3. Sun Oil;

  4. Pittsburgh Terminals/Gulf Oil;

  5. Alcosan; and

  6. USA Waste/Chambers Development Monroeville Landfill

ACHD has committed to issuing Title V Operating Permits for these sources in 2019:

  1. NRG Energy–Brunot Island;

  2. Harsco, Inc.;

  3. U.S. Steel Clairton Works;

  4. Bellefield Boiler; and

  5. University of Pittsburgh

In 2020, ACHD plans to finally issue Title V Operating Permits for Allegheny Ludlum’s Brackenridge Works and Eastman Chemical & Resins, the two major sources that have never had Title V Operating Permits.

We will keep our fingers crossed that ACHD sticks to the plan it has outlined to EPA. Of course, GASP will review and comment on the Title V Operating Permits that ACHD does issue as they are published.

–John Baillie, Staff Attorney

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