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U.S. Steel Gets OK for Project to Reduce Pollutants

July 25, 2008

By Allison M. Heinrichs, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jul. 25–The Allegheny County Health Department on Thursday granted U.S. Steel Corp. a permit to make $1.1 billion in pollution-reducing upgrades at its Clairton Coke Works.

By the end of 2011, the Mon Valley coke-making plant plans to replace three older batteries with a more efficient battery containing ovens that cook coal into coke. U.S. Steel has said it will build a second new battery to replace three other older batteries by 2014.

“We’re pleased that the Allegheny County Health Department has issued the installation permit,” said U.S. Steel spokesman John Armstrong. “We believe that the emission reductions … will be a positive step in improving air quality.”

The improvements will help the Liberty, Clairton, Glassport, Lincoln and Port Vue area, with a population of 25,000, achieve federal clean-air standards. The region now has the worst air quality in the country, according to the American Lung Association.

“The two new batteries, combined with extensive rebuilding of the plant’s six remaining batteries, will dramatically improve air quality,” County Health Director Dr. Bruce Dixon said in a statement.

The Health Department issued the permit about seven months after having received the application from U.S. Steel — far faster than the department’s average over the past 10 years of more than 10 months. The department has been criticized in the past for the time it takes to issue permits.

The project is the largest that the county Health Department has processed.

After receiving hundreds of public comments on its draft permit last month, the Health Department strengthened some emission limits and added more testing requirements to its final permit. The comments and the department’s responses are expected to be available at www.achd.net.

“We will make every effort possible to meet these stringent emission limits,” said Armstrong of the changes in the final permit.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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