New Report: Allegheny County’s “Toxic Ten” Emit 1.4 million pounds of toxics in one year

Media Contacts
Stephen Riccardi

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Pittsburgh, PA— PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center released a new report today that identifies the ten industrial facilities in Allegheny County releasing the most hazardous toxins into the air. These toxins include chromium, manganese, benzene, and other toxins known to cause cancer, respiratory problems, neurological disease, and reproductive problems. 

Residents can find out how close they are to the Toxic Ten through a new interactive website

“One in three Allegheny County residents live within three miles of one of the county’s most dangerous industrial facilitates. This staggering number reinforces a simple fact: you can’t escape pollution from the Toxic Ten,” said Stephen Riccardi, Western PA Field Associate for PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “They pollute our air making the communities around them sick.”

The report, Allegheny County’s Toxic Ten, was comipled by combining:

  • Industry-reported data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s  Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) on the amount and type of emissions from facilities in Allegheny County.
  • An EPA-based risk assessment of chemicals in reported emissions called the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) to determine which facilities pose the greatest risk to citizens’ health.

“Allegheny County has some of the worst air pollution in the United States. Our analysis found that a small number of industrial facilities are releasing large amounts of toxic pollution into the air,” said report co-author Jeff Inglis, a policy analyst with Frontier Group.

The report found that about 447,000 Allegheny County reisdents, live within three miles of these ten facilities. For years, residents near many of the Toxic Ten have expressed concerns about health impacts, noxious smells, and other issues associated with facilities.

“This report highlights what the thousands of families living in the shadow of DTE Shenango coke works have known for far too long: these facilities simply don’t follow the regulations in place that are meant to keep our families safe and healthy,” said Thaddeus Popovich, a Ben Avon resident with the citizens’ group Allegheny County Clean Air Now. “It’s time for facilities like Shenango to demonstrate greater awareness that they operate in communities that thousands of people call home. That means they have to play by the rules.”

 Key findings of the report include:

  • Carpenter Powder Products, a custom metal powder manufacturer in Bridgeville, is the most toxic facility in the county, emitting 268 pounds of particularly hazardous chromium in 2013. It is located less than a mile away from the Great Southern Shopping Center and highly-ranked Chartiers Valley High School.
  • McConway & Torley Foundry in Lawrenceville, the eighth most toxic facility, poses the greatest risk in terms of the number of nearby residents, with 147,562 people living within three miles of the plant.
  • Two coke-producing facilities in the county—US Steel’s Clairton Plant and the Shenango Coke Works on Neville Island—ranked among the Toxic Ten, largely due to their elevated emissions of carcinogenic benzene.
  • Approximately 432,000 citizens live within three miles of one of these ten facilities. 

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and their partners in other environmental groups, public health, and community organizations, see the report as a key piece in the mounting evidence for Allegheny County Health Department’s need to take stronger action to reduce hazardous pollution. The report includes policy recommendations such as higher fines for violations, more stringent guidelines for permitting, and increased monitoring of the facilities.

 “We often hear from residents throughout the Mon Valley who are dealing with the health and environmental effects associated with poor air quality. Whether they are in Clairton, Liberty, or West Elizabeth one thing is the same, poor air quality is impacting the health and standard of living for all residents,” said Cassi Steenblok, with Clean Water Action. “This report just further proves the need for the county to get tough on air pollution.”

 “Pittsburgh’s efforts to become a world-class modern city have to include improving air quality. Families and business owners have to feel confident they can breathe safely here,” said Riccardi. “And that won’t happen until the Toxic ten are cleaned up.”