Harsco Metals – Natrona

The Harsco Metals plant in Natrona is the second-most-toxic air polluter in Allegheny County, driven in large part by high emissions of chromium compounds. There are more than 33,600 residents within three miles of this scrap metal and slag reprocessing facility.

Harsco Metals processes steel slag from the neighboring ATI Flat Rolled Products plant, which produced the most-toxic air pollution in the county. Harsco releases toxic metals such as chromium, manganese and lead to the air. The company’s pollution has continued despite multiple notices of violation and fines from the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD).

Harsco still remains without a required Title V clean air permit, a critical tool for enforcement and public accountability.

Slag from the facility is processed in the open air, resulting in dust that often becomes airborne and contaminates nearby neighborhoods. Dust from Harsco Metals’ facility has coated cars, toys and houses in a nearby community for years and the company acknowledges that it doesn’t know how to solve the problem. Only after pressure from residents and the threat of legal action from the Group Against Smog and Pollution in 2017 did ACHD force Harsco to install equipment to control the dust in 2018. In spite of that new equipment, Harsco and ATI were issued four violations between April and June 2020 due to continued fugitive emissions from slag processing and were fined just $6,000. In January 2020, Harsco was called into a consent agreement with ACHD requiring the company to construct a building to enclose its slag operations.

Harsco has questioned whether the EPA data on which this analysis is based is an accurate representation of the toxicity of its releases to air. Future updates to EPA’s data may result in a change in Harsco’s ranking within the Toxic Ten.

Health EffectsChemicals
CancerChromium Compounds, Lead Compounds, Nickel Compounds
Cardiovascular SystemLead Compounds
Nervous SystemLead Compounds, Manganese Compounds
Respiratory SystemChromium Compounds, Nickel Compounds
DevelopmentalChromium Compounds, Lead Compounds
ReproductiveChromium Compounds, Lead Compounds

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