U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works Edgar Thomson Plant, located in Braddock, is the eighth-most-toxic air polluter in Allegheny County. There are more than 90,000 people living within three miles of the plant. Six schools are within one and a quarter mile of the plant, including Fairless Elementary School, Homeville Elementary School and West Mifflin Area Middle School.
The facility had violations of the Clean Air Act due to high levels of sulfur dioxide emissions from the start of 2019 through early 2021, as well as an additional violation for particulate matter from mid-2020 through March 2021. In 2019, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) found that emissions of sulfur dioxide from the plant were endangering public health and issued an enforcement order for U.S. Steel to reduce plant emissions. The ACHD issued another enforcement order in 2020 for visible emissions. The company was also sued in 2019 by PennEnvironment and other organizations for its alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
For four decades, county, state and federal officials have attempted to rein in pollution from the plant and U.S. Steel’s other facilities in the Mon Valley. Since 1990, the plant has been the target of 12 formal and informal enforcement actions. Two of the most recent incidents, one violation in 2017 for visible emissions and failure to maintain equipment, and another incident from 2020 for an ominous plume of red-brown smoke, remained unresolved as of early 2021, with no penalties having been assessed or corrective action ordered according to the Group Against Smog and Pollution. Yet, the plant continued to put residents of Braddock and neighboring communities at risk.
Photo Credit: Penn State University CC-BY-SA 2.0
|Cancer||Benzene, Beryllium Compounds, Chromium Compounds, Lead Compounds, Nickel Compounds|
|Cardiovascular System||Barium Compounds, Lead Compounds, Vanadium Compounds|
|Nervous System||Benzene, Lead Compounds, Manganese Compounds, Mercury Compounds, Methanol|
|Respiratory System||Ammonia, Beryllium Compounds, Chromium Compounds, Copper Compounds, Nickel Compounds, Vanadium Compounds, Zinc Compounds|
|Developmental||Benzene, Chromium Compounds, Lead Compounds, Mercury Compounds, Methanol, Nitrate Compounds, Sodium Nitrate|
|Reproductive||Barium Compounds, Benzene, Chromium Compounds, Lead Compounds, Vanadium Compounds, Zinc Compounds|