U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works (Photo via Pittsburgh City Paper).
By Jamie Wiggan
The Allegheny County Health Department has fined U.S. Steel $301,275 for pollution violations accrued last summer at the Clairton Coke Works.
The fee derives from nearly 500 non-compliant inspections logged between July and September of 2022, according to an enforcement order issued today.
The Clairton facility produces nearly 5 million tons of coal each year and is consequently one of Allegheny County’s most potent polluters.
The steel conglomerate and the health department have repeatedly fought over the details of regulation and enforcement provisions. In 2019, the parties reached a settlement agreement that, among other provisions, set up a Community Benefit Trust to channel funds into surrounding municipalities impacted by pollution from the plant.
The settlement directs U.S. Steel to pay 90% of fines into the trust, and the remainder goes into the health department’s Clean Air Fund.
Since the 2019 settlement, fines logging in the six figures have continued as a cost of business for the industrial giant. In May, it was fined $307,800 for violations tallied last spring, and in November 2022, it was billed $458,225 for the previous quarter.
U.S. Steel has contested the methods of enforcement and calculation underpinning these fines and formally appealed the November order.
In response to the enforcement action, a company spokesperson again claimed the health department calculated the fines using methods at odds with the 2019 agreement.
“ACHD, again, breached its obligations under the June 2019 agreement and is reluctant to conduct inspections in a fair, consistent, reliable, and credible manner. U. S. Steel intends to invoke dispute resolution per the 2019 Settlement Agreement for the non-conforming observations and penalties,” Media Relations Manager Amanda Malkowski told Pittsburgh City Paper.
“U. S. Steel seeks to comply with all requirements under the Settlement Agreement and maintains a compliance rate of more than 99%,” Malkowski said.
Jamie Wiggan is news editor of Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared.
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