The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed Clear Air Act settlement with Republic Steel, a steel manufacturer in Canton, Ohio, which will require the company to reduce its facility’s lead emissions that have caused airborne lead levels in the surrounding area to exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lead. The settlement terms are included in a proposed consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In addition to securing air pollution reductions, the settlement requires Republic Steel to pay a $990,000 civil penalty.
The United States’ complaint, filed simultaneously with the consent decree, alleges that Republic Steel is operating in violation of its Clean Air Act permit for failing to conduct emissions tests and for exceeding lead emission limits. Under the consent decree, Republic Steel will install and operate new control technologies at its Flexcast Vacuum Tank Degasser and associated cooling tower to reduce lead emissions from the facility. EPA estimates that the new controls will result in the reduction of over 1,000 pounds of lead emissions per year.
“This important settlement reflects our continuing commitment to enforce the Clean Air Act vigorously to protect public health, the environment and vulnerable communities that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can cause harm to a child’s cognitive development,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement will help protect local communities, and particularly children, by lowering airborne lead levels.”
Exposure to lead pollution can affect almost every organ and system in the human body. It is especially harmful to young children, as they are most susceptible to some adverse effects of lead. This is of significance here, as there is a residential community with three schools within a one-mile radius of the Republic Steel facility. Additionally, this is an area with environmental justice concerns.
The settlement is subject to a public comment period that will end on Jan. 13, 2023, and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.