FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 8, 2014
Contact: John Baillie, Staff Attorney 412-924-0604 firstname.lastname@example.org
Group Against Smog and Pollution Files Lawsuit against Shenango, Inc.
Plant’s history of air quality violations makes air dangerous to breathe
Pittsburgh, PA – Today, the Group Against Smog and Pollution (“GASP”) filed a citizens’ suit under the federal Clean Air Act in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Shenango, Incorporated (“Shenango”). GASP’s suit includes claims against Shenango based on violations of emissions standards and limitations that have occurred since late 2012 at Shenango’s Neville Island Coke Works. GASP seeks an order of court prohibiting Shenango from violating:
Limitations on visible emissions (smoke) from door areas of Shenango’s coke ovens;
Limitations on visible emissions from the combustion stack for Shenango’s battery of coke ovens; and
Limitations on the sulfur content of the coke oven gas that Shenango flares, mixes, or combusts at the Neville Island Coke Works.
Based on compliance reports that Shenango submitted to regulators between July 26, 2012, and September 30, 2013 (a 432-day period), GASP determined that Shenango violated limitations on visible emissions from the door ovens of its coke oven battery at least one time on thirty-nine separate days; violated limitations on visible emissions from the combustion stack for its battery of coke ovens at least one time on 264 separate days; and violated limitations on the sulfur content of its coke oven gas at least one time on twelve separate days. GASP’s suit follows a notice of intent to sue that GASP sent to Shenango (and federal, state, and county officials) on February 6, 2014.
Recent government enforcement actions against Shenango, including one concluded by an April 7, 2014 Consent Order and Agreement between Shenango and Allegheny County, either did not address violations of these limitations or imposed measures on Shenango that failed to eliminate Shenango’s violations of the limitations.
“The recent agreement between Shenango and the Allegheny County Health Department did not do enough to limit pollution from the coke oven doors or combustion stack,” said Rachel Filippini, Executive Director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution. “These are significant problems, and the longer they go unaddressed, the longer pollution from Shenango continues to make community members sick.”
Coke oven emissions, created by Shenango when coal is processed into coke for use in steel making, are some of the most toxic of all air pollutants. These emissions include dangerous pollutants known to cause cancer, asthma, and lung damage. The violations addressed in GASP’s lawsuit have caused emissions of these harmful pollutants to increase. Preventing violations at the Neville Island Coke Works is particularly important given its location: the plant is less than one mile from residential communities along the Ohio River (including Avalon, Ben Avon, Bellevue, Emsworth, and Stowe Township), and is less than five miles from Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh.
“No one should be forced to spend days indoors to protect himself from illegal emissions from Shenango as I have. Given how many people live close to this plant, they should be doing everything in their power to make sure it operates according to the law,” said Ted Popovich, a member of GASP’s board and Ben Avon resident.
“It’s great to see GASP moving forward with legal action,” said Angela Garcia, a resident of Bellevue and mother to a son with asthma. “We need all of the problems at Shenango fixed to protect the health of our families.”
Valessa Souter-Kline, Outreach Coordinator at PennFuture, added “We all deserve to breathe air that won’t make us sick. As long as Shenango continues to dump toxins into our air, citizens and environmental organizations will continue to work to hold them accountable. They cannot continue to profit at the community’s expense, while operating in violation of regional air quality standards.”
GASP is a Pittsburgh-based environmental non-profit founded in 1969 and dedicated to improving air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania and surrounding regions. GASP’s work on this issue has been part of a collaborative effort between several groups to eliminate illegal pollution from Shenango’s Neville Island Coke Works. Participants in the effort include: individuals living near the Shenango facility, GASP, Clean Water Action, Women for a Healthy Environment, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, and Clean Air Council.
Link to complaint filed May 8, 2014: http://gasp-pgh.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/Complaint-re-Shenango-05-08-14.pdf