From the team at the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at UPMC, we would like to give you this information about a recent environmental event in your area that may have affected your air quality and your asthma.
Allegheny County released this statement on 6/17/19:
Health Department Advised of Clairton Coke Works Electrical Equipment Fire PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) was notified by U.S Steel at approximately 4:43 a.m. of an electrical equipment fire that occurred at its Clairton Coke Works facility. The fire has been put out. Control rooms 1, 2 and 5 were shut down because of the fire. Control 1 is now back to normal operations. Currently, control rooms 2 and 5, which hold the equipment and controls necessary to clean the coke oven gases, remain shut down. These are the same two control rooms that were immediately shut down following the December 24, 2018 fire. As these control rooms remain offline, this means there is no desulfurization of coke oven gas. Multiple mitigation measures are underway, like those used after the December 24 fire. Health Department inspectors on-site have been instructed to observe the damage and will be providing additional information to the department. Sensitive populations, including those with respiratory conditions, children and the elderly, should be aware of the potential for elevated levels of SO2; however, there is no need for residents to take specific precautions at this time. ACHD will continue to gather additional details to determine the next course of action and will keep the public updated as further information becomes available.
Allegheny County released this statement later in the day on 6/17/19:
Health Department Issues Emergency Order Against U.S. Steel PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has issued an emergency order requiring U.S. Steel to come into compliance with its hydrogen sulfide (H2S) standard and sulfur dioxide (SO2) limits. U.S. Steel must submit a plan within 24 hours to ACHD as to how this will be achieved. The company will then have up to 20 days to achieve compliance. If these requirements are not met, the company will have to cease all coking operations. The complete order can be viewed here. At approximately 4:20 a.m., an electrical equipment fire forced a shutdown of control rooms 2 and 5 at the Clairton Coke Works. These control rooms hold the equipment and controls necessary to clean the coke oven gases, and they are the same two control rooms that were immediately shut down following the December 24, 2018 fire. As these control rooms remain offline, there is no means for desulfurization of the coke oven gas. ACHD staff have notified local and state elected officials and have contacted school nurses and pediatricians in the Mon Valley. Additionally, staff will be monitoring emergency room visits in the Mon Valley. As of 12 p.m. today, there have been no elevated SO2 levels at any of the monitors in the Mon Valley. It’s important to understand that there is no need for individuals to take specific precautions at this time. Residents should be aware of the potential for elevated SO2 levels. ACHD continues to gather and review information. Additional public notifications will occur as more information becomes available.
U.S. Steel said the systems were working again at approximately 8:15 p.m. Monday.
So what does this all mean? We have attached a quick FAQ for what you need to know.
Has this event impacted you and your family? We want to know! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and you may be featured in an article from the Asthma Institute.
For more information and further resources to stay more connected with your local air quality, check out our website at www.asthmainstitute.edu .
The Asthma Institute Team