Neville Island plant shows improvement

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A Neville Island coke works that had a history of emissions violations is beginning to show improvements, an Allegheny County health official said Wednesday.

The Shenango Inc. coke works, owned by Detroit-based DTE Energy, entered a consent agreement with Allegheny County a month ago in which it agreed to accelerate improvements meant to reduce pollution at the plant. It also agreed to pay a $600,000 fine.

At a meeting of the Allegheny County Board of Health, Jim Thompson, the deputy director of environmental health, said the plant has had no emissions violations for the last two weeks. He said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the compliance would continue.

The 52-year-old coke works came under scrutiny after the county found it violated emissions standards on 330 days in a 432-day period ending Sept. 30, 2013.

The settlement with the county resolved those violations. It also was party to five federal consent decrees between 1980 and 2012, leading clean air advocates to be skeptical about whether it would ever clean up its act.

DTE plans to invest $750,000 in its facility to reduce emissions.

DTE Energy spokeswoman Randi Berris said the plant also is working on a $300,000 engineering study to figure out how it can further reduce its particulate matter emissions. Under the agreement with the county, the company can pay for the study in lieu of paying one-half of the fine to the county.

"We take pride here at Shenango that the upgrades we've already done, and are continuing to do, are making an immediate difference in our environmental performance," she said.


Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published May 7, 2014 4:35 PM

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