About a Year after a Fire at the Clairton Coke Works Knocked out Pollution Controls and Heightened Concerns over Air Quality in the Region, Residents from Clairton and across Allegheny County Gathered at the City-County Building in Downtown Pittsburgh to Urge the Allegheny County Health Department to Do More to Fight Air Pollution [Derived Headline]

By Martines, Jamie | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 10, 2020 | Go to article overview

About a Year after a Fire at the Clairton Coke Works Knocked out Pollution Controls and Heightened Concerns over Air Quality in the Region, Residents from Clairton and across Allegheny County Gathered at the City-County Building in Downtown Pittsburgh to Urge the Allegheny County Health Department to Do More to Fight Air Pollution [Derived Headline]


Martines, Jamie, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


About a year after a fire at the Clairton Coke Works knocked out pollution controls and heightened concerns over air quality in the region, residents from Clairton and across Allegheny County gathered at the City-County Building in Downtown Pittsburgh to urge the Allegheny County Health Department to do more to fight air pollution.

"If we don't do something, the future of our kids is at stake," said Pamela Lee, a resident of Clairton who grew up in North Braddock. "If we don't do something, who will?"

Lee is a former smoker but said she quit after realizing the air quality was making it even harder to breathe. Bad smells and smoggy air hanging over her neighborhood keep her inside her Clairton home most of the time, and she hesitates to tell her 16-year-old son to go outside to play.

"I want to see my grandbabies," Lee said. "And I want him to be alive to have them."

Lee, 53, joined other county residents and air quality activists Friday for a rally before the bimonthly Allegheny County Board of Health Meeting.

They called on the county health department and board of health to step up their efforts to forecast and warn the public of bad air days connected to weather events. This follows a week of poor air quality at the end of December.

"ACHD cannot control the weather," said Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution, or GASP. "They cannot use the weather as an air pollution control tool. But they can control emissions."

The health department announced plans last week to develop new pollution regulations for weather events called inversions -- periods of drastic changes in temperature that trap pollutants close to the surface -- and during periods of heavy fog and light wind.

The goal is for industry to have emissions reductions plans in place that could be implemented within 24 hours notice from the health department.

U.S. Steel announced Friday that it is offering to assist the health department with developing those forecasting tools.

"The company will do its fair share to propose actions that could have a measurable benefit during inversions and encourages ACHD to ensure that all members of the community contribute to regional air quality," a statement from the company said.

Clairton Coke Works Plant Manager Mike Rhoades reiterated that commitment during Friday's board of health meeting.

Filippini urged the health department to move forward with those plans. She also asked that the department work toward revising and strengthening the county's coke oven emission regulations.

"This is necessary to combat the fugitive emissions we deal with every day, such as the hydrogen sulfide," she said. …

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About a Year after a Fire at the Clairton Coke Works Knocked out Pollution Controls and Heightened Concerns over Air Quality in the Region, Residents from Clairton and across Allegheny County Gathered at the City-County Building in Downtown Pittsburgh to Urge the Allegheny County Health Department to Do More to Fight Air Pollution [Derived Headline]
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