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Company planning to drill for gas at U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson mill

“More than 21,000 people in the communities of Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Forest hills, Munhall, North Braddock, North Versailles, Rankin, Turtle Creek, Wilmerding, Whitaker and West Mifflin live within a two-mile radius of the proposed shale gas pad, said Mark Dixon, a filmmaker and environmental activist.

“‘If this project goes forward, the surrounding communities and possibly Pittsburgh will face serious impacts from gas drilling activity, including health and safety concerns,’ Mr. Dixon wote in a recent blog post. ‘This is a densely populated area. Residents deserve to see a full capacity footprint of the buildout of such a development. Complete transparency and public hearings should be part of that process.’

“‘Merrion stressed its use of environmental protections to make sure there is no chance of groundwater contaminations and to keep air emissions at a minimum,’ Mr. Fetterman said. ‘I live across the street from the mil and have three young children. I represent a community within the (two mile) radius. The company was upfront and transparent about it, about taking every environmental safeguard to make sure its footprint will be as minimal as possible.’

“Mr. Fetterman also said U.S. Steel justified the decision to drill the gas well by saying it will provide the steelmaker with the 20 million cubic feet of gas a day it uses to heat the mill’s blast furnaces.

“‘The rationale at Edgar Thomson is that gas for the furnaces is a major expense and by producing its own gas the mill will better be able to preserve its competitive advantage and maintain the 600 jobs there,’ Mr. Fetterman said. “It was a compelling argument.'”

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