Poor air quality
It’s no secret that Pittsburgh’s air quality has been bad for years, but now it’s getting worse. U.S. Steel’s Clairton plant had a fire on Dec. 24 that damaged the pollution controls and caused $40 million in damages, according to the Jan. 31 article by Daniel Moore, “Repairs following Clairton Plant Fire Will Cost $40M.”
U.S. Steel does not want to put the plant on hot idle to make the repairs. They claim it will cause job cuts, increase pollution and damage their plant. The Clairton plant has a history of air pollution problems and has paid fines totaling more than $4 million under terms of enforcement actions in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016. The fines were paid, but our air quality didn’t improve.
There has been an increase in the sulfur in our air and it’s getting into my home. I can smell it when I’m trying to sleep. The evenings and early mornings have been especially bad. I can see numerous reports on SmellPgh, an app that reports bad odors. I can see unhealthy particle matter on the Carnegie Mellon Unviersity air quality project page (pghairquality.com). This is a CMU website that tracks pollution using sensors around the region. They measure PM2.5 which is particulate matter small enough to get deep in our lungs. It causes respiratory issues, heart disease, premature death and cancer.
Pittsburgh has been building itself up. CMU and the University of Pittsburgh are renowned universities. We have Google and world-class health care institutions like UPMC, but all of this is overshadowed by our air pollution.
When will enough be enough? When will county executives like Rich Fitzgerald start taking action to protect residents from air pollution at the U.S. Steel plants? When will U.S. Steel stop appealing fines and properly filter air pollution rather than leaving it up to the lungs of our residents?