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Allegheny County Clean Air Now - Get Involved
 

Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN)
(ACCAN is the successor organization to the Neville Island Good Neighbor Committee that was formed
by the communities surrounding the coke plant and Clean Water Action in the late 1980's.)

 

Allegheny County Clean Air Now - History & Mission

Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN) was founded in June, 2014 to give a voice to the residents living downwind from the DTE Energy's Shenango Coke Plant on Neville Island.

For decades, residents of Avalon, Bellevue, Ben Avon, Emsworth, and Brighton Heights, in particular, were directly impacted by the pollution from Shenango. The coke plant was a major source polluter of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. Foul, poor quality air was a daily occurrence and it affected the health and well being of local residents. The Northgate School District, in the community, recorded the highest asthma rate in Pennsylvania. Nearby communities displayed increased rates of chronic diseases such as cancer.

ACCAN demanded that the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) force Shenango to comply with federal and county regulations, limit production on "bad air days", record all air quality complaints, and impose an effective fine schedule. The group did this by attending and testifying at any and all meetings and public hearings, and meeting with regulators directly.

Allegheny County Clean Air Now - History & Mission

In December, 2015, DTE Energy announced the shutdown of the Shenango Coke Plant, citing market conditions as factors in the decision. However, ACCAN members believe that relentless community exposure of air quality violations played a key role in the corporate decision.

Since the January 6, 2016 shutdown of the coke ovens, downwind communities have reaped enormous benefits in vastly improved air quality. However, our work continues as we tell the Shenango story, particularly its health effects as retro-spective studies unfold. We continue to be aware of risks from the Shenango site due to years of soil and water pollution as well as from asbestos removal during the dismantling of the plant. We maintain vigilance concerning the possibility of new pollution sources locating near our community, especially at the Shenango site.

Four other plants, (Ashland, Calgon, Gulf, and Neville Chemical) remain as major sources of pollution on Neville Island. ACCAN is committed to being watchful of these polluters as well as other polluters in nearby communities.

 

The ACCAN mission is to support communities in their fight for better air quality and improved health outcomes

Here are highlights of advocacy efforts regarding the DTE Shenango Coke Plant:

  • Monthly community meetings, regular meetings with the ACHD Air Quality Division, meetings with DTE Shenango representatives.
  • As certified emission evaluators ("smoke readers"), we reported on fugitive and stack emissions to ACHD
  • Met with EPA Region 3 Director Shawn Garvin and his staff to report on repeated air quality violations at the Shenango site and the impact on the communities. We secured visits from him and staff to confirm our findings
  • ACCAN was invited to become a member of the Air Quality Collaborative.
  • ACCAN members have attended DTE Energy's annual shareholder meetings to testify on the impact of pollution from the Shenango plant.
  • ACCAN has held annual community meetings which have been attended by ACHD, EPA, environmental groups, elected officials, and up to 150 community members.
  • Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE (Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment) Lab collaborated with ACCAN in setting up the Shenango Channel which provided 24/7 video and monitor coverage of egregious pollution moments from the coke plant.
  • Members regularly attend and testify at bi-monthly Allegheny County Board of Health meetings to address air quality concerns.
  • ACCAN members have obtained resolutions from Avalon, Bellevue, Ben Avon, and Emsworth Boroughs requesting ACHD to better regulate Neville Island industries and to turn the site into a solar array so it stays pollution free.

For more information please check out our full history and list of activities and actions