(Pittsburgh) Sept. 8, 2015 An audit by the office of Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found that nearly 15 years after being empowered to certify the compliance of major air pollution sources with Title V of the federal Clean Air Act, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has not issued required permits to some facilities.
“The ACHD is tasked with getting the facts on pollution levels from these facilities, and is empowered to deny them permits if they don’t submit the required information,” Controller Wagner said. “But our auditors found that no process was in place to secure additional information from companies when needed, and that the ACHD does not deny incomplete applications.”
While federal law requires local permitting agencies like ACHD to approve or disapprove a Title V operating permit application within 18 months of submission, applications submitted as far back as 1995 have never been approved or denied.
“While these facilities have been inspected many times over for compliance with other portions of the law, Title V provides for annual certifications to ensure that an array of pollution standards is being met. ACHD should compel submission of required information by denying permits when applications are incomplete,” Wagner said.
Denial of a Title V permit does not impact a facility’s ability to continue operating, but would increase accountability for facilities to provide complete information and ensure that the ACHD is compliant with the required timeframes under Title V, the audit found.
Controller Wagner is planning a more comprehensive review of the Health Department’s air quality monitoring program that is set to begin in the coming weeks.
Responses to the Controller’s Office audit by the ACHD showed that important recent steps have been taken to gather the missing information and to complete the Title V permitting process for the facilities identified in the audit.
“While I am encouraged that Health Department procedures have been improved with respect to Title V permitting, I believe that this and our upcoming review of the entire air quality monitoring process will result in further improvements to benefit public health,” Wagner said.
The facilities subject to Title V of the Clean Air Act which have not been issued or denied permits are:
· Koppers Clairton Tar Plant
· Allegheny Technologies Brackenridge Plant
· U.S. Steel Edgar Thompson Plant in Braddock
· Neville Chemical Company in Neville
· Eastman Chemical Resins in West Elizabeth
The full Auditor’s Report can be found here
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