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County late on permits for major polluters, groups say

Two of the permit renewals have been pending for more than 20 years. Others have been delayed for 19, nine, eight and six years, the petition said. The department also recently issued new or renewed Title V major source permits to eight other facilities after delays ranging from 20 to two years.

Among the major pollution sources identified by the petition as operating in the county without a permit renewal for more than 18-months are U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works; PPG Industries’ facility and Allegheny Energy’s coal-burning power plant, both in Springdale; the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority in Woods Run; and Eastman Chemical Resins Inc. in Jefferson Hills and Allegheny Ludlum LLC in Harrison, both operating for more than 20 years with permits “pending.”

A “major source” is an industrial facility that emits or has the potential to annually emit 100 tons of any air pollutant, 10 tons of any hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons of a combination of hazardous pollutants. It’s legal for companies to operate under terms of their old permits while awaiting permit renewal, but the 20-page petition alleges that the longstanding processing backlog undermines public participation in the permitting process and makes it difficult for the public to know what the emissions limits are and when the emitters are in violation of those limits.

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