Erie Coke Fined $6.1 Million
Citing chronic air quality violations and a lack of response to previous enforcement actions, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced a more-than-$6.1-million penalty against Erie Coke and ordered the company immediately to begin operating in compliance with the state's Air Pollution Control Act and its air quality permit.
"Erie Coke has shown a flagrant disregard for the well-being of its neighbors and, indeed, the entire community by operating the facility in a manner that is totally unacceptable," said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. "Other facilities in the Erie area operate responsibly, going about their business within their permit requirements and environmental regulations. Erie Coke will be held to the same high environmental standard."
The $6,145,748 penalty is in response to repeated violations at the facility along the Lake Erie waterfront, a lack of cooperation in correcting violations, and the financial benefit Erie Coke enjoyed by neglecting to replace and repair old equipment, officials said.
The company also was found to have violated Pennsylvania's Air Pollution Control Act by exceeding the prescribed limits for visible emissions, fugitive emissions and fugitive particulate matter.
Erie Coke has 58 coke ovens at the facility that were installed in the 1940s and 1950s.
The facility has been operating out of compliance with its permit and environmental regulations on a consistent basis since early February 2007. Prior to that, Erie Coke had regular violations, but those were corrected.
Over the past year and a half, the violations have increased and persisted, officials said.
In early 2007, following multiple complaints regarding smoke and dust from Erie Coke, DEP implemented near-daily visits and inspections through April 2008 that identified more than 60 violations by the company.
"After the notices of violations failed to result in substantive progress, we met with company officials on a number of occasions," Burch said. "This spring, we attempted to bring Erie Coke into a legally binding schedule of activities that would address the causes of the ongoing violations. The company's response fell significantly short of our expectations, which compelled us to issue this order."
The order issued today requires Erie Coke to:
- Comply with the Pennsylvania's Air Pollution Control Act, air quality regulations and permit conditions.
- Install and operate a certified opacity monitor on the main combustion stack.
- Submit maintenance, repair and daily operational records.
- Submit quarterly progress reports.
For more information on air quality, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Air Quality.