On Feb. 6, 2014 GASP gave notice of intent to sue Shenango, Inc., a coke-making facility on Neville Island, based on Shenango’s chronic violations of certain emissions standards and limitations that apply to Shenango’s operations, specifically:
A standard that makes it illegal for the periods during which there are visible emissions during Shenango’s charging operations to aggregate to more than 55 seconds (for any five consecutive charges);
A standard that makes it illegal for the opacity of visible emissions from Shenango’s pushing emissions control device outlet to equal or exceed twenty percent at any time;
A standard that makes it illegal for there to be visible emissions from more than five percent of Shenango’s coke oven doors at any time;
A standard that makes it illegal for visible emissions from Shenango’s battery combustion stack to equal or exceed twenty percent opacity for a period aggregating to more than three minutes during any sixty-minute period;
A standard that makes it illegal for visible emissions from Shenango’s battery combustion stack to equal or exceed sixty percent opacity at any time; and
A limitation on the sulfur content of Shenango’s coke oven gas.
On April 7, 2014 Shenango entered into a Consent Order and Agreement (the “COA”) with the Allegheny County Health Department (“ACHD”). GASP has reviewed Shenango’s most recent quarterly and semi-annual compliance reports to determine how Shenango’s compliance record has been following the COA.
First, the good news: the COA required Shenango to submit and implement a “Charging Procedures Work Plan.” That Plan looked to address Shenango’s chronic violations of the charging standard listed above. Shenango submitted its Plan on time, and has not reported a violation of that standard since implementing it in the period GASP reviewed. The COA also required Shenango to undertake measures to eliminate its violations of the pushing standard listed above. Specifically, Shenango was required to repair and extend its pushing emissions control shed and submit and implement a “Baghouse Maintenance Plan.” These measures appear to have eliminated Shenango’s violations of that standard in the reviewed period.
There is also mixed news: Shenango implemented a coke oven door maintenance program that is mentioned but not required, by the 2014 COA. That program has reduced, but not eliminated, Shenango’s violations of the limitation on visible emissions from the door areas of its coke ovens.
Finally, the bad news: the rate of Shenango’s violations of the limitation on the sulfur content of its coke oven gas has actually increased following the COA. Shenango violated that standard 14 times during the second quarter of 2014, after having violated it only once during 2014’s first quarter and twice during the last quarter of 2013.
In other bad news, the COA did not impose any new requirements on Shenango to address its chronic violations of the limitations on visible emissions from its combustion stack, and those violations have continued to occur. In fact, such violations have occurred at an increasing rate over the last several years. The following graphs show the number of stack violations that Shenango has reported for each month since the beginning of 2011. The straight lines toward the bottom of each graph are trend lines generated by Microsoft Excel:
Because the COA does not require Shenango to comply with emissions standards and limitations that Shenango continues to violate, GASP filed a citizen suit against Shenango under the federal Clean Air Act on May 8, 2014. In its citizen suit, GASP requests a court order that will require Shenango to comply with the emissions standards and limitations that apply to its operations on Neville Island, specifically including the limitations on emissions from its coke oven doors and battery combustion stack discussed above. GASP’s suit is currently pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
–John Baillie, Staff Attorney