HARRISBURG, Pa. — U.S. Steel Corp. has reached a settlement agreement regarding a lawsuit accusing the Pittsburgh-based company of violating federal clean-air laws. The suit alleged that the company operated plants without desulfurization controls for over three months, resulting in the release of sulfurous gas into nearby towns.
The settlement was filed in federal court on Monday, awaiting review by a judge. Environmental groups Clean Air Council and PennEnvironment, along with the Allegheny County Health Department, were parties to the agreement.
According to the plaintiffs, U.S. Steel is responsible for more than 1,200 violations of its air-pollution permits. The total worth of the settlement is estimated at $42 million, with $37 million allocated towards enhancing U.S. Steel's pollution-control and plant-reliability systems at its Mon Valley Works facilities.
In addition, U.S. Steel has agreed to pay a $5 million penalty which will be used to fund clean-air initiatives. This penalty stands as one of the largest fines ever imposed in a citizen-enforced lawsuit under federal clean-air laws.
David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, expressed his satisfaction with the settlement during a news conference on Monday. He stated, "This historic announcement should send a message to all illegal polluters who put the health and environment of Pittsburghers at risk. We will not sit by while illegal air pollution rains down on nearby communities and the Pennsylvanians who live in them."
U.S. Steel acknowledged the "accidental" nature of the emissions and expressed regret, emphasizing its commitment to adhering to environmental regulations.
U.S. Steel Ordered to Pay $8.5 Million in Lawsuit Over Air Pollution
In a recent statement, Kurt Barshick, the Vice President of Mon Valley Works at U.S. Steel, acknowledged the company's commitment to making necessary changes when they fall short of environmental standards. This comes as a response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups following a devastating fire at the Clairton coke plant on Christmas Eve in 2019. The fire caused an estimated $40 million in damages to the plant.
The lawsuit pointed out that the fire severely damaged pollution-control equipment, resulting in significant releases of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is a colorless and pungent byproduct of fossil-fuel combustion, known to have adverse effects on air quality and respiratory health.
Despite the damage caused by the fire, U.S. Steel continued operations at its Mon Valley plants, even with compromised pollution controls, as alleged by the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.
Additionally, the lawsuit highlighted repeated breakdowns at the Clairton plant, including an incident in 2019 where 525,000 pounds of coke oven gas were released through a pressure-release valve. In response to these issues, U.S. Steel has already invested approximately $18.5 million out of a total of $37 million on improvement measures, according to Allegheny County.
In addition to the financial penalty of $8.5 million, U.S. Steel is also required to permanently close around 60 of its most polluting coke ovens. These ovens play a crucial role in converting coal into coke, an essential ingredient in the steelmaking process.
U.S. Steel's commitment to improving environmental performance will be closely monitored in the coming years, ensuring that the necessary measures are taken to protect the local community and the environment.
Our Latest News
Disney CEO Bob Iger faces challenges in navigating concerning trends and executing a succession plan. The company's free cash flow and potential constraints are...
Keystone Law Group expects strong financial results for fiscal 2024, reporting an increase in pretax profit and revenue growth for H1-2024.