Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Level of Sulfur Dioxide Recorded in Braddock Area

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Level of Sulfur Dioxide Recorded in Braddock Area

Article excerpt

A sulfur dioxide level in excess of the federal health standard was recorded Monday evening in Braddock, near U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson mill, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

The exceedance, measured by the county's air monitor at 10 p.m., recorded sulfur dioxide concentration at 82 parts per billion, above the federal standard of 75 ppb.

The health department announced the exceedance on its Facebook page at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Its alert said, "We are currently analyzing the data and an enforcement action will be forthcoming."

Ryan Scarpino, a health department spokesman, declined to comment further Tuesday.

U.S. Steel issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it "has not identified anything in our operations that led to elevated sulfur dioxide emissions from Edgar Thomson during this time." The company added that it has established a dedicated website, clairton.uss.com, where it will provide information to the public as it is available.

The sulfur dioxide exceedance was the ninth in the Mon Valley since Dec. 24 when a fire at U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works severely damaged the facility's coke gas feed and desulfurization system, but the first since Jan. 8, when the health department issued an air quality advisory for 22 Mon Valley communities that is still in effect.

Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, a local grassroots clean air advocacy organization, questioned the effectiveness of the steelmaker's emissions controls.

"I'm encouraged to see the health department report on the sulfur dioxide exceedance quickly and pledge to take enforcement action," Ms. Filippini said. "It does beg the question, are the mitigation efforts being undertaken by U.S. Steel working or does more need to be done to protect public health?"

Monday evening's high sulfur dioxide reading occurred after an unusual string of strong weather inversions on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning produced high concentrations of tiny airborne particulates throughout the region and the northeastern U. …

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