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Today PublicSource published an in-depth story about why the City of Pittsburgh’s Clean Air Act of 2010 hasn’t been implemented.

 

Pittsburgh City Council passed the law in 2011 requiring construction companies to retrofit a percentage of their diesel equipment to reduce harmful emissions if the equipment was being used on projects larger than $2.5 million that received at least $250,000 in public subsidies.

 

As reporter Emily DeMarco explains, diesel exhaust contains fine particles that can pass through the nose and throat and lodge themselves in the lungs, aggravating asthma and causing lung damage, as well as premature death. Last year, a group of experts from the World Health Organization classified diesel engine exhaust as more carcinogenic as secondhand cigarette smoke based in part on a large study that showed an increased risk of death from lung cancer in underground miners exposed to diesel exhaust.

 

Children, the elderly, those with heart and respiratory disease, and of course, construction workers, are most at risk. And when kids miss school because of asthma attacks, parents miss work to care for them. There are also more emergency room visits and higher insurance premiums.

 

But despite these compelling health and economic reasons to control diesel air pollution, regulations to implement the Pittsburgh ordinance still haven’t been finalized, making it unenforceable.

 

DeMarco quotes Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP): “If we truly want to be the most livable city, we have to contend with our air pollution. And one way to do that is to clean up construction vehicles.”

 

GASP reports that emissions from construction vehicles make up nearly a quarter of our diesel pollution problem in the region. But the good news is that emissions controls called diesel particulate filters and the use of widely available ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel can help eliminate a significant amount of the fine particles released by heavy-duty trucks and construction equipment.

 

To allow small construction companies to comply with this law and remain competitive, the Allegheny County Health Department and The Heinz Endowments have established the Small Construction Contractors Retrofit Program to help cover the cost of the required equipment.

 

Click here to read more about the delay in Pittsburgh’s implementing clean construction law and how to make your voice heard for clean air.

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  • Breathe Project

    More about the pending lawsuit from PennEnvironment against ArcelorMittal in Monessen:
    http://bit.ly/1ONCBJI

    Aug 4th 12:10pm • 2 Comments

    #breaking: Penn Environment to sue largest steel company in the world for violations of Clean Air Act in ***Monessen***:

    READ:

    PENN ENVIRONMENT TO SUE WORLD’S LARGEST
    STEEL COMPANY OVER ILLEGAL AIR POLLUTION

    ArcelorMittal’s Pittsburgh-area Plant Commits Hundreds of Clean Air Act Violations, Raining Soot and Foul Odors on Local Residents

    [PITTSBURGH, PA] – At a news conference held in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh, representatives of the citizen-based non-profit group PennEnvironment announced they’re taking the required steps to trigger a lawsuit against the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, to address hundreds of ongoing violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

    The suit would address a wide variety of alleged problems at ArcelorMittal USA, Inc.’s Monessen Coke Plant, located twenty-five miles south of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Monongahela River. Local residents say the plant is fouling the air over a wide swath of southwestern Pennsylvania.

    The required pre-suit notice letter, sent on behalf of PennEnvironment and its members to ArcelorMittal, as well as to state and federal regulators, alleges that residents of numerous nearby towns surrounding the plant have been showered with soot, acidic gases, and noxious odors since the idled, decades-old facility re-started in April 2014. These include the municipalities of Monessen, Donora, Monongahela, and Carroll Township, located in both Westmoreland and Washington counties.

    “I’ve met with residents who live in towns all around this plant, and their stories about air pollution from this facility are gut-wrenching,” said David Masur, Executive Director of PennEnvironment. “Ever since the Monessen Coke Plant re-opened last year, local residents have had their quality of life diminished, have endured ongoing odors and soot, and have had to fear for their health and the health of their families. This is appalling and unacceptable.”

    "The smell that emanates from the Monessen plant is consistently foul and sometimes so suffocating that I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I only get relief from these odors and pollution when I leave the area,” said Viktoryia Maroz, a resident of Donora, PA.

    Photos of the facility can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1N5hC4l. If using photos to accompany a news story, please credit as, “Logan Tilley.”

    The Clean Air Act’s “citizen suit” provision allows private individuals and organizations to sue violators in federal court after first providing 60 days’ notice of their intent to file suit and of the violations to be addressed in the suit.

    The Monessen plant’s 56 coke battery ovens heat coal at high temperatures to produce nearly 1,000 tons per day of “coke,” a form of carbon that is added to molten iron to produce steel. Coke from the Monessen plant is shipped to ArcelorMittal’s various North American steel mills.

    The production of coke creates massive amounts of toxic, chemical-laden gases and fine particulate pollutants that, if not properly contained and treated, can cause serious environmental and public health problems when released to the surrounding environment.

    The notice letter alleges a wide range of violations at ArcelorMittal’s Monessen plant, including:

    • Operating the plant for days and weeks at a time while a key air pollution control device was out of service;
    • Approximately 200 violations of the facility’s pollution limits for hydrogen sulfide (a toxic gas with a foul odor), sulfur dioxide (a respiratory irritant and contributor to acid rain), and particulate matter (which can lodge in the lungs and exacerbate respiratory problems);
    • Failure to install a mandatory monitoring device needed to track the amount of hydrogen sulfide coming from the facility’s smokestacks.

    At times, violations have been so egregious that ArcelorMittal’s emission levels have been up to eight times higher than the legally allowable limits.

    ArcelorMittal USA, Inc., is headquartered in Chicago. Its parent company is headquartered in Luxembourg and has annual revenues of over $80 billion.

    PennEnvironment’s lawsuit will be filed by the non-profit attorneys at the National Environmental Law Center (NELC), in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, located in Pittsburgh. The lawsuit will seek a court order requiring the Monessen Coke Plant to comply with its Clean Air Act permit, and civil penalties against ArcelorMittal to punish it for past violations and to deter future violations.

    A separate class-action lawsuit (unrelated to the suit announced today by PennEnvironment) has been filed against ArcelorMittal’s Monessen Coke Plant, seeking monetary damages for residents suffering from noxious odors and soot.

    “It’s outrageous that the world’s largest steel company, which brings in $80 billion annually, can’t find a way to comply with our cornerstone environmental laws and ensure the health and safety of nearby residents,” stated Masur. “That’s anything but being a good corporate neighbor.”

    ###

    PennEnvironment is a citizen-funded, statewide environmental advocacy organization. For more information about this or other PennEnvironment campaigns, please visit our website at www.PennEnvironment.org.

    The National Environmental Law Center (NELC) is a non-profit environmental litigation group. NELC will be joined in the lawsuit by attorney David Nicholas of Newton, Massachusetts, and Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Farrell of Farrell & Reisinger, LLC.

    Aug 4th 11:15am • 1 Comment

    #whatibreathe: MAJOR announcement today at 11 a.m. by PennEnvironment about a big time Pittsburgh-area polluter. Follow us live on our Twitter page, @breatheproject, for more.

    Aug 4th 10:04am • No Comments

    President BarackObama's plan to curb power plant emissions: http://huff.to/1SBKdoU #whatibreathe #asthma #cutthispollution #climatechange

    Obama To Announce The 'Biggest, Most Important Step' So Far On Climate

    www.huffingtonpost.com

    The Obama administration will release final standards for power plants on Monday that are, in several key ways, tougher than the draft version of the plan.

    Aug 3rd 10:32am • 1 Comment

    Happy Monday, everyone! Whether in Pittsburgh or all the other places we call home, thank you for new likes, follows, and #doingallthegood.

    Aug 3rd 10:15am • No Comments

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  • The Heinz Endowments
    Megha Satyanarayana, Communications Officer
    Phone: 412-338-2616
    Email: meghas@heinz.org
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