Another fire prompts air pollution warnings

US Steel's 100-year-old Clairton coke plant in Pittsburgh, USA, has prompted the Allegheny Health Department to issue more warnings following another fire on at the facility on Monday.

A report by the Wall Street Journal says that people with respiratory problems, the elderly and children have been warned of the potential for higher sulfur dioxide levels in the air.

The latest fire follows hot on the heels of a 24 December 2018 fire that led to many complaints when it sent sulfur dioxide emissions through the roof for several months.

On Monday, the health department issued an emergency order requiring US Steel to submit a plan within 24 hours to bring the plant into compliance with sulfur-dioxide and hydrogen-sulfide standards.

US Steel, however, said that the electrical fire was quickly brought under control and that there were no injuries. Two control rooms were shut down on Monday night as a result of the fire and were the same control rooms closed down after the Christmas Eve fire and their closure means that there is no desulfurisation of coke oven gas.

Needless to say, the latest outbreak of fire has prompted more complaints.

Ashleigh Deemer, the western Pennsylvania director for PennEnvironment, described the Clairton plant as a 'doomsday machine' that cannot be turned off when pollution controls are 'knocked offline'.

There have been calls for the plant to be 'hot idled', which means a temporary shutdown, but US Steel has said that could prove dangerous and lead to more emissions.

Source: Wall Street Journal.