Avalon said to have worst air in Allegheny County
Share with others:
Avalon had the most polluted air in the county in 2010, according to Allegheny County Health Department data, but not everyone -- especially those who live in the borough -- agrees that the statistics are accurate.
Harry Dilmore, lifelong resident and manager of Avalon, wonders about the questionable distinction.
"How do I know it isn't dirtier in Bellevue or Ben Avon? Avalon has the testing site, that's where the data's coming from," Mr. Dilmore said. "To single us out is unfair."
Downwind from Shenango Coke Works on Neville Island, Avalon had an average fine airborne particulates level of 16.4 micrograms per cubic meter, which edged out the 16.0 micrograms per cubic meter in the Liberty/Clairton area, near the U.S. Steel Clairton Coke Works.
For Erie native and Bellevue resident Bill Bartlett, the news is troubling. He moved to Bellevue four years ago because it's a great community where he can raise his 7-year-old son.
"It's a great place to raise kids, if the air weren't so bad," Mr. Bartlett said. "This is a very serious concern of mine. It's a factor that makes me want to get out of the area. The health department needs to act on this immediately."
Other locals agree.
Ben Avon resident Ted Popovich, a board member of the Group Against Smog and Pollution and also a Clean Water Action steering committee member, is a member of the Neville Island Good Neighbor Committee, which works with industrial firms on Neville Island to talk about issues such as pollution. The recently released health department data is an affirmation of what he's seen, Mr. Popovich said.
"I think [the pollution] can be fixed. With the same type of operation in Japan or Germany, they don't have the same problems," Mr. Popovich said.
Pittsburgh keeps jockeying with Los Angeles to have the worst air in the nation, Clean Water Action Western Pennsylvania director Tom Hoffman said.
"Nobody says, 'We've got a problem, let's fix it,' " Mr. Hoffman said. "Other places in the country have realized that having bad air is bad for them. People don't come here because of bad air, too. We need clean air for the economy."
Shenango Coke Works had 114 air quality violations during the first seven months of 2011 and was fined $114,000 by the health department.
The coke mill has a decades-long record of air pollution problems that led to federal consent orders in 1980, 1993 and 2000 and a county consent order in 2005. Since 1990 and prior to 2011, the facility has paid fines totaling more than $2 million.
First Published December 1, 2011 12:00 am