Steelworkers Intend to Sue Steel Company for Violating Clean AirAct

Dec. 10, 1999
USWA threatened to sue Oregon Steel's CF&I subsidiary if it does not correct violations of the Clear Air Act.

The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) announced yesterday that it filed a notice of intent to sue Oregon Steel's CF&I Steel subsidiary over the company's failure to comply with both the federal Clean Air Act and Colorado environmental regulations and limitations.

The notice, which provides an overview of CF&I's transgressions, was sent to CF&I Steel, its parent company Oregon Steel, the company's environmental contractors and relevant state and federal officials.

This action follows the Steelworkers formal demand for a public hearing on CF&I's pollution permit earlier this week.

Section 113 of the Clean Air Act provides for civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day for each violation of emissions standards or limitations. In addition, a Compliance Order issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) provides a stipulated penalty of $750 per day for violation of deadlines set forth within the Order.

"CDPHE has allowed CF&I to abuse the system long enough," said John Perquin, USWA assistant director of health, safety and environment.

Perquin said that during inspections conducted at CF&I earlier this year, state officials found emissions from the mill that were so serious that they could pose a threat to public health.

"Instead of enforcing the law and compelling the company to correct this situation, the state has engaged CF&I in an endless series of negotiations," commented Perquin. "The filing of our notice picks up where the state inspection left off. CF&I needs to be held responsible."

Section 304 of the Clean Air Act authorizes any person to bring a lawsuit in federal district court against a person who is alleged to have violated an emission standard, limitation or order issued by an administrator or a state with respect to these standards or limitations. It also requires a 60-day notice of intent to sue.

Additionally, the notice alleges other violations identified by the USWA. One violation involves the company's failure to comply with New Source Performance Standards related to construction of the company's second electrical arc furnace that began in the late 1970s.

Another involves the violation of permit limits on the volume of steel processed at the mill.

"Unless the issues identified in the notice are corrected, the suit is set to begin on or around Feb. 7, 2000," Perquin concluded.

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