August 7, 2015
The citizen environmental group PennEnvironment gave notice this week that it’s filing a lawsuit against the steel producer ArcelorMittal. Last year, the company re-opened the Monessen Coke Plant, which is about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh. At a press conference Tuesday, PennEnvironment director David Masur said since the plant reopened, it has violated the federal Clean Air Act hundreds of times.
“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,” Masur says.
Masur says the plant emits bad-smelling hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, a respiratory irritant.
Viktoryia Maroz, who lives a mile away from the coke plant, says when it reopened, she started getting extreme headaches and fatigue.
“The quality of the air has been declining to the point where it makes it unbearable to breathe in your own house,” Maroz says. “I work in Pittsburgh, and a lot of times I feel like I can't wait to get out of the house so I don't have to inhale the toxic rotten-egg smell.”
Maroz says she’s complained to the Department of Environmental Protection, but it has done nothing. In a written statement, ArcelorMittal notes there have been inspections and upgrades to the plant in recent months and that the company is “committed to ensuring that the recent improvements prevent future occurrences and maintain compliance levels.”
PennEnvironment must wait 60 days after announcing its intention to officially file the lawsuit under the Clean Air Act.
Dale Shoemaker contributed to this report.