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UPDATED: U.S. Steel Appeals $2.2 Million Fine for Hydrogen Sulfide Exceedances

Updated: Jan 29

Editor's Note: U.S. Steel on Jan. 26 appealed this enforcement order. You can read the appeal document here.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has issued an enforcement order against U.S. Steel, having determined that emissions from the company’s Clairton Coke facility caused 152 exceedances of the state hydrogen sulfide (H2S) air quality standard between March 2, 2022, and Nov. 30, 2023.

The 14-page enforcement order, dated Dec. 29 but uploaded to the ACHD website late this week, indicates those exceedances occurred at ACHD’s Liberty Borough monitoring site.

Here’s a breakdown of the fines:

In addition to paying the civil penalty, the order also requires U. S. Steel to “take action to prevent future exceedances of the H2S ambient air concentration standard from occurring and provide ACHD with a plan to achieve and maintain compliance with its requirement to not cause exceedances of the H2S ambient air concentration standard.”

Upon notification of ACHD's approval of the compliance plan, U. S. Steel is required to immediately implement it. The plan must be completely implemented within 45 days after that approval. The company is then required to submit a report to ACHD detailing the actions it’s completed by date.

However, if ACHD determines the compliance plan is ineffective in eliminating exceedances of the H2S ambient air concentration standard, it may require U.S. Steel to submit a revised compliance plan and/or may pursue other remedies available in Article 21.

“This is the type of action GASP has been imploring ACHD to take,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “Last year alone there were 103 H2S exceedances at the Liberty monitor. That’s 103 days on which residents’ health and quality of life were inhibited.”

He added:

“We hope that this latest enforcement action leads to a compliance plan that finally stems this issue once and for all. And if it doesn’t, we hope ACHD swiftly takes further action. Enough is enough.”

GASP staff is currently reviewing the order, which you can read for yourself here. We continue to follow this issue closely and will keep you posted.

Editor’s Note: In March of 2022, ACHD published a comprehensive study analyzing potential sources of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that have been driving exceedances of the Pennsylvania 24-hour average H2S standard at its air quality monitor in Liberty Borough. You can read that study here.

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