Cheswick Power Plant

Cheswick Power Plant in Springdale is the last remaining coal-fired electric generating plant in Allegheny County, and ranks seventh in the county for toxic air emissions, having previously been ranked first in 2016. Nearly 33,600 people live within just three miles of this facility.

In 2018 and 2019, Cheswick exceeded the daily limit for sulfur dioxide emissions on 13 separate days, thereby violating the Allegheny County Health Department’s Air Pollution Control Regulations and presenting risk for the health of county residents, especially children and people with asthma. The facility was penalized over $32,000 by the ACHD. It has had an ongoing high-priority violation of the Clean Air Act due to high levels of sulfur dioxide every quarter from mid-2019 to early 2021.

In 2020, the Cheswick plant was shown to be taking advantage of a loophole in Pennsylvania’s regulations that allowed the facility to turn off pollution controls meant to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides at certain times of day. A federal appeals court then ordered the state to revise these rules, as the loophole allowed Cheswick to not comply with emissions limits according to the Sierra Club.

The Title V 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 that would reduce smog-causing nitrogen oxide pollution by 75 percent compared to 2014 levels.

Health EffectsChemicals
CancerDioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds, Lead Compounds
Cardiovascular SystemBarium Compounds, Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds, Lead Compounds
Nervous SystemLead Compounds, Mercury Compounds
Respiratory System Ammonia, Dioxin and Dioxin-Like Compounds, Hydrochloric Acid, Hydrogen Fluoride, Sulfuric Acid
Developmental Lead Compounds, Mercury Compounds
ReproductiveBarium Compounds, Lead Compounds

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