PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a settlement with ArcelorMittal Monessen LLC in a case involving alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company’s coke plant in Monessen.
The consent decree, filed Dec. 20 in a Pittsburgh federal court, resolves a joint federal-state complaint against AMM, which is a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel-making company.
According to terms of the settlement agreement, "AMM will pay a $1.5 million penalty divided equally between the U.S. and Pennsylvania and implement an estimated $2 million in air pollution controls to limit particulate and sulfur compound emissions," an EPA release states.
Moreover, the agreement also settles a separate citizens’ suit filed by PennEnvironment, an environmental group that represented residents in the surrounding neighborhood.
According to EPA spokesman Roy Seneca, the EPA evaluates compliance with the Clean Air Act by on a case-by-case basis and pursues litigation in conjunction with the Department of Justice, as warranted.
“EPA, in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, has been involved in this matter since early 2015,” he told Legal Newsline in a statement.
Seneca said the settlement also demonstrates the collaborative nature of the agency.
“The settlement demonstrates how EPA can work with our state partners to implement the Clean Air Act to reduce harmful air pollutants in communities and reduce risks of premature death and other serious health effects,” he said.
AMM’s Monessen Plant produces metallurgical-grade coke using the by-product process. The coke is sold for use in blast furnaces and sometimes referred to as “furnace coke.”
"In addition to the two coke oven batteries, the Monessen Plant has a byproducts recovery plant, desulfurization plant, boiler operations plant, biological wastewater treatment facility and a barge unloading area," according to the EPA's complaint in intervention filed Dec. 20.
However, the case focused on emissions from the coke oven batteries and the combustion stacks.
"This settlement will reduce harmful air pollutants, benefiting the health and environment of residents around the Monessen coke plant,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice said in a release.
“The Department of Justice will continue to work with the EPA and other federal and state agencies to ensure that companies comply with the Clean Air Act.”
The complaint focused on alleged Clean Air Act violations "based on inspections by the EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, as well as follow-up requests for information. The alleged violations include excessive emissions of particulate matter from industrial operations," the EPA release stated.
"Particulate matter emissions include microscopic solids or liquid droplets that can cause serious health problems when inhaled, particularly impacting children, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory problems," according to an EPA release.
“This settlement demonstrates how EPA can work with our state partners to implement the Clean Air Act to reduce harmful air pollutants in communities,” EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio said in a statement. “Because of the Act, Americans breathe less pollution and face lower risks of premature death and other serious health effects.”
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.