Cheswick Power Plant

The coal-fired Cheswick Power Plant in Springdale ranks #1 for toxic emissions in Allegheny County. More than 33,600 people live within just three miles of this facility.

In 2016, Cheswick was the largest emitter of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the county. It was also the county’s largest emitter of lead and mercury, and one of the top five largest sources of benzene, particulate matter (soot) and carbon monoxide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

In addition to its county-leading levels of toxic air pollution, the Cheswick Power Plant is a large source of toxic water pollution. In 2015, the plant discharged 387 pounds of lead into the Allegheny River, making it the power plant with the fourth-highest reported releases of lead to water in the United States, according to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory.

The Clean Air Act permit for the plant was last issued in 2017 and expires in 2022. Before the most recent permit was issued, neighbors of the facility fought for stricter pollution limits. Roughly 70 members of the community testified at a hearing about the new permit, and more than 1,000 people signed a petition asking for stronger pollution limits. As a result, the plant’s allowable limits for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter were reduced by roughly half, and the limits for nitrogen oxides reduced by about 70 percent. However, stricter but achievable limits on nitrogen oxides that had been originally proposed in the draft permit were not included in the final version.

Health EffectsChemicals
CancerArsenic Compounds, Chromium Compounds, Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds, Lead Compounds, Nickel Compounds, Sulfuric Acid
Cardiovascular System ImpactsLead Compounds
Nervous System ImpactsLead Compounds, Manganese Compounds, Mercury Compounds
Respiratory System ImpactsArsenic Compounds, Chromium Compounds, Copper Compounds, Hydrogen Fluoride, Manganese Compounds, Nickel Compounds, Vanadium Compounds

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