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GASP Submits Formal Comments on Long-Awaited Synthomer Air Quality Permit, Tells ACHD ‘It’s About Damn Time’

The Group Against Smog and Pollution on Thursday submitted formal public comments on the much-delayed - and long-awaited - Title V Operating Permit for Jefferson Hills chemical-manufacturing facility Synthomer, Inc. 

And when we say “much-delayed” we mean it: Synthomer (formerly Eastman Chemical) is one of two major sources in Allegheny County that has never been issued a Title V Operating Permit, despite ACHD regulations that provide that such a permit should have been issued by the end of 2003 (the other is ATI Brackenridge Works).

Crazy, right? We thought so, too. 

Our senior attorney John Baillie has been sounding the alarm over the Title V permit backlog at the health department since 2015 - and this was one of the facilities that GASP has kept its eye on over the years.

For Synthomer, it’s been a rocky road on the permit front.  

To catch up briefly: A LONG time ago, the facility was caught violating numerous air pollution regulations, and subjected to a December 2011 consent order in federal court that required it to do:

  • comprehensive emissions testing on all of its sources of air pollution

  • submit the results of that testing to the Allegheny County Health Department and the EPA for review

  • apply to ACHD for an installation permit for each source after receiving EPA approval of the test results

  • and – once all sources were under installation permits - apply for a Title V operating permit.  

Back to the subject at hand: Our comments on the draft permit, which can be read here.

The long and short of it?

“It’s about damn time,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “This permit assures an additional level of accountability and transparency that was lacking for so long.”

Baillie agreed.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the process to get to this point has led to a permit that finally brings all of this facility's operating requirements under one umbrella in the same document, which should make it easier for ACHD and anyone interested to determine the plant's compliance with those requirements."

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