Article Courtesy of David Sternberg/July 25, 2012/EPA/Shared as educational material
(PHILADELPHIA – July 25, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) have reached a settlement with Shenango Inc. (Shenango) resolving alleged air and water pollution violations at the company’s coke manufacturing plant on Neville Island, Allegheny County, Pa. The consent decree requires the company to pay $1.75 million in civil penalties and make significant upgrades to the plant, which is located about five miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.
Manufacturing coke involves heating coal at high temperatures in an industrial oven until it forms a residue. This residue, known as coke, is used in steel manufacturing as a fuel in blast furnaces, which are used to refine iron ore into steel. Coke manufacturing also produces gases and particles, some of which are hazardous, that are regulated by the federal Clean Air Act.
The Shenango facility has a history of noncompliance with federal, state and county regulations protecting public health from air pollution. In 2000, the previous owner of the plant entered into a consent decree with EPA and ACHD to bring the facility into compliance.
Since that time, the violations including emissions of sulfur and visible emissions of particulate matter have continued. As part of this settlement, the company must take actions to reduce visible particulate emissions to meet Clean Air Act standards by making repairs to the plant’s coke ovens.
The governments’ complaint also alleges numerous violations of the Clean Water Act including: exceeding the pollutant limits of the facility’s permit for discharging wastewater for several years; failure to properly operate and maintain the facility’s wastewater treatment plant; and unpermitted discharges of polluted runoff from the coal pile directly to the Ohio River.
The part of the consent decree between EPA, PADEP and Shenango resolving Clean Water Act violations requires the company to take remedial actions including:
- Building a new biological wastewater treatment plant;
- Implementing immediate upgrades to its current treatment processes while the new treatment facility is being constructed; and
- Constructing a coal pile runoff management system.
The civil penalties in the proposed consent decree include $1.25 million to be divided equally between the United States and Allegheny County for the facility’s Clean Air Act violations. The company has also agreed to pay Clean Water Act civil penalties of $500,000 divided equally between the United States and Pennsylvania. The consent decree is subject to federal court approval, after a 30 day public comment period.