Update on Lawsuit with Shenango Coke

On Aug. 28, 2014 we wrote about Shenango, Inc.’s compliance with certain emissions limitations that apply to its coke-making operations on Neville Island. Specifically, limitations on visible emissions from the door areas of Shenango’s coke ovens, visible emissions from Shenango’s battery combustion stack, and the sulfur content of Shenango’s coke oven gas.

Shenango’s continued violations of those limitations are the subject of a currently-pending citizen suit that GASP filed against Shenango in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in May, 2014.

Shenango has argued that GASP’s suit should be dismissed because a Consent Order and Agreement that Shenango entered into with the Allegheny County Health Department (“ACHD”) in April 2014 and a Consent Decree between Shenango, ACHD, and the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection that became effective in November 2012 are “diligent prosecutions” of Shenango’s violations. Every quarter, we check the compliance data that Shenango submits to ACHD  to see whether these purportedly diligent prosecutions are actually reducing the number of violations that Shenango commits.

First, there is some good news for Shenango’s neighbors regarding Shenango’s compliance with the limitation on the sulfur content of its coke oven gas. After violating that limitation 14 times during the second quarter of 2014, Shenango violated it only once during 2014’s third quarter. The results from 2014’s third quarter are similar to Shenango’s performance during the fourth quarter of 2013, during which Shenango violated the limitation twice, and the first quarter of 2014, during which Shenango violated the limitation once, and are a marked improvement over the results from the third quarter of 2013, when Shenango violated the limitation 13 times.

Shenango is subject to a permit limitation that prohibits visible emissions from more than 5 percent of the door areas of the plant’s operating coke ovens. Although the April 2014 Consent Order and Agreement does not require Shenango to take any measures to reduce visible emissions from the door areas of its coke ovens, there is also good news for Shenango’s neighbors regarding Shenango’s compliance with that limitation. Shenango instituted a coke oven door cleaning and replacement program that appears to have largely eliminated its violations of that limitation—for the 12-month period between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, Shenango reported that on only one occasion were there visible emissions from more than 5 percent of the door areas of its operating coke ovens.

In contrast, the news regarding Shenango’s compliance with the limitations on visible emissions from its battery combustion stack continues to be bad. In August, we posted graphs that showed that Shenango’s violations of those limitations not only continued following the 2012 Consent Decree, but that they continued at an increasing rate. That trend continued during the third quarter of 2014. Thus, the rate of Shenango’s violations of the limitation on visible emissions from its battery combustion stack that exceed 20% opacity still appears to be increasing over time (the straight lines towards the bottom of each graph are trend lines that we generated using Microsoft Excel):

20Shenango1-9-15

The rate of Shenango’s violations of the limitation on visible emissions from its battery combustion stack that exceed 60% opacity also appears to be increasing:

60Shenango1-9-15

–John Baillie, Staff Attorney

#Shenango #JohnBaillie #ShenangoCokeWorks #ConsentOrder #NevilleIsland #combustionstack #AlleghenyCountyHealthDepartment #ACHD #cokeovengas

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