The Lead

Environmental group sues Allegheny County Health Dept. over failure to issue Clean Air Act permits

By: - November 28, 2023 1:47 pm

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A national environmental advocacy group is suing the Allegheny County Health Department over its alleged failure to issue air quality permits for two local chemical facilities. 

The suit, filed by Washington D.C.-based Food & Water Watch earlier this month, seeks to force the county agency to act on Title V permitting requirements outlined in the federal Clean Air Act. 

In its complaint, the group argues that the lawsuit seeks to ensure that the chemical plants, such as the Synthomer plant in West Elizabeth and the Neville Chemical Company facility in Pittsburgh, are “subject to Title V Clean Air Act permits that assure compliance with public health- and welfare-based pollution control requirements.”

The group claims that the department failed to issue a Title V permit to Synthomer by the 18-month deadline despite its application for a permit in February 2022, and similarly failed to renew Neville’s expired permit by the October 2021 deadline.

“ACHD’s failure to take timely final action on these applications for Title V permits frustrates FWW’s work to promote clean air and its work to ensure that the Title V permits for the facilities are as strong as possible,” the complaint reads. 

“Everyone in Allegheny County knows we have an air pollution crisis. It is beyond outrageous that our own health department fails to do the bare minimum to protect residents from polluters,” Food & Water Watch Pennsylvania State Director Megan McDonough said. “The folks who are forced to live with the impacts of this constant stream of pollution need the agency to do its job, and we’re going to make sure they do exactly that.”

The Allegheny County Health Department declined to comment on the pending litigation. 

“It is long overdue that chronic polluters are held accountable to the environmental laws designed to protect public health from dangerous pollution,” Lisa Graves Marcucci, Pennsylvania coordinator of community outreach with the Environmental Integrity Project said. “ACHD has an obligation to issue these permits in a timely manner but that has not happened and some polluters, like these two facilities, are operating without proper permits, putting communities at risk.” 

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