PennEnvironment Statement: First-of-its-kind penalty announced against U.S. Steel over rotten egg pollution

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Zachary Barber

Allegheny County Health Dept issues historic penalty against long-time polluter

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PITTSBURGH —  The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced Monday a $1.8 million fine against U.S. Steel for more than 150 violations of emissions limits on hydrogen sulfide, a pollutant known for its distinctive rotten-egg smell. This is the first penalty ever issued by ACHD in the agency’s history for violations of the state’s limits on hydrogen sulfide pollution.  In their announcement, ACHD cited more than 150 violations from January 1, 2020 to March 1, 2022. This comes on the heels of an $860,000 fine issued on March 3, 2022  for separate air pollution violations from the second half of 2021, as well as an ongoing citizen enforcement suit in federal court to address a 102-day outage of air pollution controls at the company’s Clairton Coke Works, filed by PennEnvironment and Clean Air Council and joined by ACHD.

Zachary Barber, the clean air advocate with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, released the following statement: 

“ACHD deserves applause for taking this action against U.S. Steel for years of smelly, illegal pollution. This is the first time ACHD has issued a penalty to a polluter for hydrogen sulfide pollution and hopefully this is the start of a serious effort to clean up these emissions.

“Significant penalties like this send strong messages to facilities breaking the law in Allegheny County: it doesn’t pay to pollute in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh may be one of the best cities in the country, but all too often, Pittsburgh stinks—literally. 

“Last year alone, local residents suffered through illegally high levels of foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide pollution levels an average of once per week. A recent investigation by Allegheny County found U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works “entirely” responsible for hydrogen sulfide levels in the Mon Valley.

“This is unacceptable. Everyone deserves to breathe fresh, clean air every single day of the year.”


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