Pennsylvania’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has imposed a fine of $825,000 on USS-POSCO Industries (UPI) for illegal storage of lead dust in a decayed building and for mishandling hazardous waste at its Pittsburgh facility.
The settlement, approved on December 12, 2019, penalizes UPI for allowing dust contaminated by zinc and lead to accumulate, which resulted in the release of harmful materials outside the property, by rain or wind, into the environment. The steelmaker also failed to use proper containers, labels, inspections, and other appropriate methods for waste management, state officials said.
Under the agreement with the department, UPI is required to set aside $200,000 of the fine, to develop hazardous waste training on environmental regulations.
Pursuant to the settlement, the company agreed to rectify the hazardous waste releases at its plant, including contaminated dust and soil. A spokesperson for UPI stated that its company offices interpreted the facts differently and were disappointed by the ruling. The steelmaker believes the penalty is not appropriate but is committed to comply and continuous improvements.
A state inspection in 2017 uncovered a rundown building with a walled off portion that contained contaminated dust that was dispersed through the air to the outdoors. State inspectors noticed broken windows, open ceilings, and bird droppings and feathers, state officials said. Samples from the surrounding soil indicated hazardous levels of lead and zinc.
The agency’s follow up inspection in spring 2018, found that UPI was using tanks formerly used for acid wash baths to illegally store liquid and solid hazardous waste, according to a statement from the state agency.
UPI, a joint venture between U.S. Steel and Korean steelmaker POSCO, produces cold-rolled steel sheet, galvanized steel and tin mill products within the construction, automotive, furniture and canning industries. The Pittsburgh plant employs around 700 people.