COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with ArcelorMittal Monessen, LLC (ArcelorMittal) for air quality violations occurring from 2014 to the present. The settlement includes a $1.5 million civil penalty, improved monitoring, and other actions.
ArcelorMittal restarted the Monessen, Westmoreland County coke plant in April 2014 following a five-year “hot idle” period. Opacity (an indication of combustion problems) and other emission violations were observed almost immediately after the restart. DEP documented more than 120 opacity, fugitive dust, pushing emissions (occurring when the coked coal is removed from the oven), malodor, and other violations in Notices of Violation. Additional violations were reported by EPA and ArcelorMittal.
DEP and EPA jointly pursued this enforcement case, with the U.S. Department of Justice representing EPA. PennEnvironment filed a citizen suit against ArcelorMittal in the fall of 2015 and participated in the negotiations. This settlement, in the form of a consent decree, has now been lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and is open for public comment.
“DEP’s joint enforcement with EPA exemplifies an effective collaboration between federal and state agencies,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Citizen engagement, coupled with inspections and enforcement at the agency level, is key to effective oversight that fosters real improvements to air quality.”
The consent decree requires ArcelorMittal to take measures at the Monessen coke plant to foster better operations and emission reductions, including improved monitoring of emissions and odors.
The company will install continuous opacity monitors to monitor opacity of the plume emanating from each combustion stack. Opacity, an indicator of combustion problems and excess emissions, was the most common violation recorded at the facility.
The consent decree requires ArcelorMittal to retain previously installed calorimeter and carbon monoxide monitors, which provide combustion data and assist ArcelorMittal in managing combustion and reducing emissions.
ArcelorMittal must commission inspections of the coke batteries and nozzles that heat the batteries to identify problems and make needed repairs, which would also reduce emissions; reduce emissions during annual maintenance shutdowns of the plant’s desulfurization system; and assess specific potential odor sources. Odors were a source of frequent citizen complaints.
The consent decree also requires ArcelorMittal to create a citizen complaint hotline for area residents to voice concerns and file complaints directly with ArcelorMittal.
“Bringing ArcelorMittal Monessen into compliance was the air quality priority in this region, and ArcelorMittal’s recent cooperation and the state/federal enforcement efforts have already lead to improvements at the facility,” said DEP Acting Southwest Regional Director, Ronald Schwartz. “Remedial measures underway and memorialized in this consent decree provide an avenue for continued operations at the facility and improvements to the air and quality of life for Mon Valley residents.”
DEP and EPA will each receive half of the $1.5 million civil penalty for violations at the Monessen Plant. ArcelorMittal will pay an additional $300,000 through a separate agreement with PennEnvironment to fund a community environmental project advanced by the organization. The funds will be administered by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, and will establish a Vehicle Emission Reduction Fund, providing grants to local governments, schools, and nonprofits for projects in Monessen, Donora, and Carroll Townships to improve air quality by reducing vehicle emissions.
The consent decree will be published in the Federal Register, opening a period for public comment. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, D.C. 20044-7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org and should refer to PennEnvironment, Inc., et al. v. ArcelorMittal Monessen LLC, D.J. (Ref. No. 90-5-2-1-11563). All comments must be submitted no later than 30 days after the publication date of the Federal Register notice, which details how to provide comments.
During the public comment period, the consent decree may be examined and downloaded at this Justice Department website: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees. A paper copy of the consent decree may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice for a fee.