"In a Steel Town Outside Pittsburgh, an Old Fight Over Air Quality Drags On"

"The debate over a pollution permit in Clairton, Pennsylvania, home to the nation’s largest coke plant, pits environmental groups and residents concerned about public health against U.S. Steel and its supporters."

"When the town of Clairton, Pennsylvania, was founded a few miles south of Pittsburgh at the start of the 20th century, the only thing there was a steel mill. “At the beginning of 1901, the town of Clairton was a field,” a newspaper article from 1904 explained. “The Clairton steel mill first began operations in that year and the idea of building a town followed.”

The town sprang up around the mill and was named for the company that originally owned it, the St. Clair Steel Company. Within a year, after rapid expansion, “the people in that vicinity awakened to the fact that Clairton was not a fable.” In 1904, St. Clair sold the mill to U.S. Steel.

More than a century later, the Clairton Coke Works is still operating in Clairton, and it is still owned by U.S. Steel, which uses coke, a fuel for blast furnaces made from coal, for steel manufacturing nearby. But that early vision of the plant as an engine of the town’s growth—and an essential element of its identity—is no longer universally accepted, and disputes over the pollution it produces have roiled Clairton and neighboring communities for years.

On Jan. 10, residents, local officials, U.S. Steel employees and environmental advocates gathered at the Clairton Municipal Building to weigh in on the Coke Works’ Title V operating permit, a document issued by the Allegheny County Health Department and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency that outlines a facility’s obligations to control air pollution under the Clean Air Act."

Kiley Bense reports for Inside Climate News January 28, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 01/31/2024