Dear U.S. Steel Executives,
Allegheny County on Thursday recorded its largest increase yet of confirmed COVID-19 cases and health officials expect that number to keep rising. Governor Tom Wolf, as well as regional leaders, ordered non-essential businesses to close and asked people to stay home if at all possible to combat the spread of the illness and “flatten the curve.”
While the steel-making industry was exempted from that closure order, it is not exempted from being a good neighbor. At a time when local community members are grappling with a stay-at-home order, financial uncertainty, and other concerns, the last thing people need to fear is how industrial emissions could exacerbate poor air quality locally, as well as their family’s ability to breathe healthy air.
Thursday saw the Liberty-Clairton area again among the top five places in the United States with the worst air quality, when the AQI peeked in the 130s in the early morning.
It’s a stark reminder of the region’s constant struggle with air pollution, which has, among other things, contributed to higher-than-average asthma rates among children in the Mon Valley. Episodic weather events only make matters worse – the days-long inversion in December and the terrible air pollution it trapped made life unbearable for many in the Liberty-Clairton area in particular.
We believe it is imperative that U.S. Steel shares publicly its contingency plan to safely operate its facilities should a large number of its employees contract COVID-19 and must self-quarantine.
GASP also believes that U.S. Steel should communicate to the public how it will protect local residents should another inversion take place. Is the company prepared to extend coking times or dial down production during these episodic weather events?
We’re calling on you to address these issues publicly. In doing so, U.S. Steel would not only assuage the very real fears people have in the Mon Valley and beyond, it also would show that the company does put people over profits.