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U.S. Steel Fined Over $700,000 for Air Quality Violations in Third, Fourth Quarters of 2018

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) on April 1 announced via a press release that it had levied a fine of $707,568 against U.S. Steel for the third and fourth quarters of 2018 because of continued emissions problems at the Clairton Coke Works facility.

This marks the third civil penalty levied against U.S. Steel since June of 2018, totaling more than $2 million.

This latest civil penalty is separate from all other enforcement actions and legal matters that ACHD and U.S. Steel are actively involved in since the beginning of 2017. Following is a summary of those matters:

  1. On Nov. 9, 2017, ACHD and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint notice of violation against U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson facility for repeated exceedances of visible emissions and violations of its Title V permit. The U.S. Department of Justice is involved, and fines will eventually be split between ACHD and the EPA.

  2. On June 28, 2018, ACHD issued an enforcement order against U.S. Steel that also included a civil penalty of more than $1 million because of a decrease in compliance over time at its Clairton Coke Works.

  3. Terms of the order included that if U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works does not improve violations in two sequential quarters of 2019 (Jan 1-June 30), two of the worst performing batteries will be put on hot idle. U.S. Steel appealed this order and it is currently in the appeals process with the hearing officer. A written decision will be issued in the future.

  4. On Oct. 18, 2018, the Allegheny County Health Department issued an additional civil penalty, a fine of $620,316, against U.S. Steel for continued emissions problems for the second quarter of 2018 at the Clairton Coke Works facility, as there was an increase in the number of violations over the previous quarter. U.S. Steel has appealed this civil penalty. A hearing to determine the merits of the appeal will be held on June 17, 2019 (date subject to change).

  5. On Feb. 28, 2019, ACHD issued an enforcement order against U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works (Edgar Thomson Plant, Irvin Plant and Clairton Coke Works) for continued Article XXI permit violations for daily sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions after the Dec. 24, 2018, fire occurred at the Clairton Coke Works. On March 12, 2019, ACHD revised its enforcement order. The action was taken in response to information submitted by U.S. Steel on March 7, 2019, demonstrating that portions of the February 28th order could result in greater short-term emissions. Per the revised order, U.S. Steel is required to extend coking times to 27 hours, have specific equipment operational by April 1, 2019, and have 100 percent desulfurization back online by April 15, 2019. Additional enforcement actions will follow if these deadlines are not met.

Once repairs to the Clairton Coke Works made necessary by the Dec. 24, 2018 fire are completed, ACHD will conduct a comprehensive assessment of violations and will evaluate and review all information to determine the amount of the resulting civil penalties. The fines will be in addition to any additional measures that will be required by ACHD of U.S. Steel.

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