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EPA, Allegheny County and DOJ reach agreement with Allegheny Ludlum Corp. on Clean Air Violations

Release Date: 05/17/2010
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, EPA, 215-814-5543/smith.bonnie@epa.gov & Guillermo Cole, ACHD 412-578-8004/ GCole@achd.net

PHILADELPHIA (May 17, 2010) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Allegheny County Health Department and U.S. Department of Justice have reached a settlement agreement with Allegheny Ludlum Corp. (ALC) for alleged Clean Air Act violations at ALC’s Natrona silicon steel production plant in Allegheny County, Pa.

“This settlement will bring cleaner air to Allegheny County” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “We’re pleased that we could resolve these issues without further litigation, meaning nearby communities will benefit sooner from improved air quality.”

As part of the settlement, ALC will pay a $1.6 million civil penalty to be divided equally between the United States and the Allegheny County Health Department. In addition, ALC has agreed to permanently cease steel making operations at its Natrona facility by no later than November 30, 2010 – a requirement included in the settlement based on an independent business decision by ALC to consolidate steel-making operations at its nearby Brackenridge plant.

“Allegheny Ludlum’s cooperation in this case demonstrates its long-term commitment to cleaner air and continuing operations here in Allegheny County,” said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.

In March 2006 and June 2007, the Allegheny County Health Department and ALC settled Clean Air Act (CAA) violations of the opacity, or visible emissions limits under the EPA-approved state implementation plan. Opacity is a measure of smoke thickness, and is regulated to prevent visible air pollutants such as soot and other particulate matter from polluting the air. Fine particulate matter from combustion sources is a serious public health concern, particularly for sensitive populations such as children, the elderly and asthmatics. The settlement required the installation and repair of a baghouse – a pollution collection system – and other air pollution control equipment.

During an EPA inspection in August 2007, the emission control efforts agreed to at Natrona were not sufficient and did not bring the company into compliance. So, EPA issued a notice of violation. The alleged CAA violations resolved by this settlement agreement pertain to excessive visible fugitive emissions coming from the Natrona facility’s basic oxygen furnace shop.

Until operations at the Natrona facility cease, the settlement requires the company to take specific steps to minimize visible emissions including charging hot metal at a slow and steady manner and maintaining a double door at the facility.

This consent agreement will not only improve air quality by reducing emissions of particulate matter, but will also result in less carbon monoxide, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as nitrogen oxides being emitted.

Today’s consent decree is associated with a prior consent decree resolving the company’s liability for fugitive emissions violations from its slag pile operations at the same facility. The slag pile consent decree is entered by the Court and is now in effect. The settlement announced today is subject to a public comment period and final court approval.

A copy of the consent decree can be found at http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov, click on the ‘Links of Interest tab at the top’ and go to PACER Information - Public Access to Court Electronic Records.

Information on EPA mid-Atlantic region’s air enforcement program is at http://www.epa.gov/reg3artd/enforce/mainenf/apdenf_l2.htm

Potential environmental violations may be reported at www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints.