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  • Must Watch: “Extraction” Podcast Exploring U.S. Steel Origin Story, History of Exploitation Now on PCTV

    As an air quality watchdog group from way back (1969, to be exact), GASP has been witness to decades of drama between U.S. Steel Corp. and the government agencies tasked with regulating it. We helped lead the charge against U.S. Steel and other polluters when their smokestacks belched out so much air pollution that Pittsburgh was famously referred to as “hell with the lid off.” We were there in the 1970s when a killer inversion prompted the first of what would be decades of discussion about the need to mitigate air pollution during episodic weather events. Fast forward to 2019, and GASP was among those demanding answers in the wake of a Christmas Eve fire that ripped through U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, knocking out air pollution-control devices for more than three months (and all the things that followed that). GASP was NOT there, however, for the U.S. Steel origin story - during those first days and decades of the company’s presence here in our region. And that’s a story worth learning about and better understanding. That’s why we’re honored to team up with Pittsburgh Community TV to broadcast a three-part podcast by one of our very own board members - Chie Togami - that explores the relationship between Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel, and the people and places that have figured prominently in the past 120 years of the company’s existence. “Considering that Pittsburgh is at the epicenter of a pending multi-billion U.S. Steel sale, we thought it was an opportune time to draw attention to the company’s history,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “In the story of steel, our Mon Valley neighbor has long been a villain.” Learn more and check it out here. Editor’s Note: HUGE thank you to our friends at PCTV. For those who may not be familiar, at more than 30 years and counting, PCTV is among the oldest public access media organizations in the United States. PCTV has served thousands of Pittsburgh residents and non-profits, giving them low-cost access to media production tools and the ability to broadcast to households throughout Pittsburgh and the world. Check out their work and give them a follow on social media!

  • Action Alert: Weigh in on How U.S. Steel Air Quality Settlement Money Should Be Spent - Here’s How (and Why)

    Good news, friends: A LARGE pot of money is now available to support public health in the Mon Valley - and Allegheny County is seeking YOUR input on how exactly it should be spent. We’re talking, like, $2.25 million. Here’s what’s going on: The funding is thanks to a settlement reached between PennEnvironment, the National Environmental Law Center, Clean Air Council, the Allegheny County Health Department, and U.S. Steel regarding the 2018 fire that knocked out pollution controls at the steelmaking giant’s Clairton Coke Works facility. Here’s how our pals at PennEnvironment explained it: On Christmas Eve 2018, a catastrophic fire broke out at the Clairton Coke Works. It destroyed critical equipment at the facility that reduces the plant’s emissions of sulfur dioxide, a potent respiratory irritant linked to asthma, and benzene, which is a known carcinogen. Our lawsuit showed that the fire was caused by a chain reaction of mechanical and design failures that were completely avoidable, and resulted from decades of disrepair and problems long-known by U.S. Steel. Following the fire, pollution levels coming from the plant skyrocketed.  Sulfur dioxide pollution at the Clairton Coke Works spiked nearly 25 times higher than usual. Yet, instead of shutting down the plant to protect public health and obey the law, U.S. Steel continued operating without pollution controls for more than 100 days, violating their Clean Air Act permits more than 12,000 times. As the uncontrolled air pollution levels soared at the Coke Works, so too did health problems in nearby communities. Residents reported burning lungs and abnormally bad asthma attacks. So back to the money… The Allegheny County Economic Development (ACED) is seeking public input on ways in which their portion of the settlement money may best be used to help support public health within the communities most affected by that fire. ACED this week announced a public hearing for this very purpose slated for 5 p.m. THIS Friday, May 17 in Clairton. You can get the skinny on that here. But some things you should know: We get it, 5 p.m. on a Friday ain’t ideal. BUT, here’s the good news: Folks don’t need to sign up in advance to speak There is a virtual option to participate This hearing is just the first one - stay tuned for further opportunities to weigh in Attending the hearing isn’t the only way to share your thoughts - residents are also encouraged to fill out this survey “We hope there is a robust turnout for the hearing and that as many people as possible share their thoughts on how best to spend this money,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “So much good can be done.” Editor’s Note: Not sure what to ask for? Here are some ideas to get you started: Asthma clinics Air filters for front-line community members Other projects that help mitigate exposure to air pollution

  • EPA Announces National Standards for Emissions from Bulk Gasoline Terminals – 4 Regional Major Sources to Be Impacted

    The EPA this week announced final revisions to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (or NESHAPs for short) and New Source Performance Standards that apply to bulk gasoline storage facilities. Gasoline storage facilities are subject to the NESHAPs because gasoline vapors typically contain substantial amounts of hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene. The revised NESHAPs that apply to the Allegheny County operators are part of a larger EPA effort to update standards relevant to gasoline storage and distribution facilities. There are four such facilities in our region that double as major sources of air pollution: LHT – Neville Island Terminal on Neville Island Sunoco Logistics – Pittsburgh Terminal in Lawrenceville Buckeye Terminals – Coraopolis Terminal in Moon Township and Delmont Terminal in Salem Township, Westmoreland County “The revised NESHAPs will require some changes to the standards that apply at the four facilities, and that will reduce the facilities’ emissions of both hazardous air pollutants and smog-forming volatile organic compounds,” GASP senior attorney John Baillie explained. They include: a reduction in the maximum emission rate for total organic compounds during tank loading from 80 milligrams/liter of gas to 35 milligrams/liter required annual leak detection using leak-detecting instruments and “The revised NESHAPs will also require that the measured vapor tightness of older, large gasoline storage tanks be increased, but the four facilities are already subject to the increased standard,” Baillie added. The revised NESHAPs will go into effect on July 8, 2024.

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