A pair of Pittsburgh-area residents have filed suit against U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works, claiming that the facility has made area residents sick and declaring that the pollution produced by the plant has significantly reduced property values in the region.
John Marcus and Cheryl Hurt allege that the plant, located about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, is seriously compromising their health and the health of others in this rather rough-and-tumble mill town.
Like many other U.S. Steel facilities, the Clairton Coke Works has a long record of Clean Air Act violations.
From 2012 through May 31, 2015, the plant was hit with 6,700 violations for toxic air pollution releases, noted a story aired on the local CBS station. But the problems go back much further than just a handful of years.
“Unfortunately for decades, US Steel has violated the appropriate state laws, been cited by the state health agencies, and the residents have continued to be exposed to these pollutants,” said the pair’s attorney in a statement to the press.
Not only has air pollution been a problem for local residents as well as employees of the company, but – for many years – individuals who worked for U.S. Steel’s coke plant (and other facilities) were regularly exposed to asbestos-containing products.
Over the last few decades, the company has been hit with countless mesothelioma-related lawsuits that allege the company knew about the toxic properties of asbestos but continued to allow employees at many of their facilities be exposed.
Safer alternatives were usually available but were more expensive, so companies like U.S. Steel usually ignored the options.
Those who invested their life savings in houses in Clairton and other small mill towns around Pittsburgh also mourn the fact that their homes just aren’t worth what they used to be.
The pollution is clearly visible and no one is certain as to how it has affected those who live there and breathe in the tainted air each and every day.
“Their property values have diminished, so these tough mill towns that are all over Western Pennsylvania, have mills that are violating the law, fighting the regulations, and the people that have bought homes, are seeing their values decrease year after year after year,” said the attorney, who noted that the two plaintiffs would be seeking compensation for the loss of property value as well as other damages.
According to United States Steel Corporation’s website, the Clairton Plant is the largest coke manufacturing facility in the United States. It operates ten coke oven batteries and produces approximately 4.3 million tons of coke annually, serving customers in the commercial coke market as well as U. S. Steel’s steelmaking facilities.