<UPDATED> Allegheny County Air Quality Program Approves 10 Mon Valley Episode Rule Plans, Reje

Editor’s Note: The Allegheny County Health Department approved all six of the resubmitted plans on April 1, 2022. You can read more about that here.

The Allegheny County Health Department in a press release Thursday announced that it has reviewed air emissions mitigation plans for 16 sources that are required to submit such plans under the Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode Rule; 10 were approved, and six were rejected.

GASP on Wednesday was the first to tell you about the plans that were rejected – among them, U.S. Steel’s. You can read specifically about the U.S. Steel rejections here. 

Here’s what the release stated:

Enforcement orders identifying deficiencies in the six sources were issued on Jan. 31 after the Air Quality Program determined that the submitted plans were inadequate. Sources were instructed to resubmit plans with more information and/or pollution reductions.“The Mon Valley Episode Rule is an important and innovative enforcement tool designed to protect people in an area that has long suffered from poor air quality,” Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said. “Everyone has the right to clean air, and our Air Quality program staff will ensure cooperation and compliance from all sources, for the health and wellbeing of everyone in the Mon Valley.”Letters of approval and enforcement orders rejecting plans can be found here. The Mon Valley Episode Rule, an addition to Article XXI – Air Pollution Control Regulations, was signed into law in September 2021 by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to develop and implement a system to respond to weather-related inversions in the Mon Valley, which can result in episodes of high levels of particulate matter pollution (PM2.5).Under the rule, Air Quality staff monitors pollution forecasts for conditions that could lead to an episode. When conditions are likely to exceed acceptable levels for the Mon Valley, sources are required to follow approved mitigation plans to reduce their emissions. Under the direction of the Health Department Director, an Air Pollution Watch is issued when weather conditions are forecast to cause a high concentration of particulates in the Mon Valley, and an Air Pollution Warning is issued when the exceedance occurs and is expected to continue for 24 hours.The rule applies to sources within or near the following municipalities: Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Clairton, Dravosburg, Duquesne, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Elizabeth Borough, Elizabeth Township, Forest Hills, Forward, Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Liberty, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, North Braddock, North Versailles, Port Vue, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Versailles, Wall, West Elizabeth, West Mifflin, White Oak, Wilkins, Wilmerding and Whitaker.Notifications and alerts will be sent out using Allegheny Alerts. To sign up, go here. Notifications can be sent to you via email, text, and/or phone call. A free subscription is required.

GASP reiterates its concern expressed Wednesday (and as the Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode Rules were being crafted): Transparency.

While GASP appreciates that ACHD appears to be carefully reviewing the mitigation plans and pushing for greater emissions reductions that better protect ambient air quality and public health, we remain disappointed by the lack of transparency.

“These mitigation plans are a necessary tool for protecting the public’s health, we don’t see any reason why the health department cannot and should not make these mitigation plans available for public review,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “We encourage the health department to post these plans on its website for transparency’s – and accountability’s – sake.”

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