Detroit steel coke producer faces federal lawsuit over air pollution

Detroit, Michigan – The Biden administration has become prosecution A subsidiary of DTE Energy in Detroit, alleging that the company violated the federal Clean Air Act by increasing sulfur dioxide emissions without obtaining permits or installing pollution controls.

The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against EES Coke Battery LLC on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Federal District Court in Detroit. The government is seeking civil fines and wants a judge to order the company to install emissions controls at its Zug Island facility.

EES Coke uses coal to produce metallurgical coke, which is used to make steel. The company is one of the state’s largest sources sulfur dioxide (SO2), a toxic gas that can exacerbate particulate pollution and can make breathing difficult for people with asthma.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which works alongside regulators in Michigan. make a plan To reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from the Detroit area by reducing air pollutants from facilities located on the highly industrialized island of Zug in the Rouge River.

According to the report, EES Coke significantly increased its sulfur dioxide emissions after telling regulators in 2014 it would not do so while asking the state to review its original 1990 permit to remove restrictions on the combustion of underfire coke oven gas, which is used to power operating operations.

The increase has led to a strict review of emissions, but the coke oven battery continues to emit sulfur dioxide at higher levels below required controls, claims.

In 2018, EES Coke emitted more than 3,200 tons of sulfur dioxide, compared to an allowable baseline of less than 2,100 tons per year, the EPA says. In 2021, EES Coke emitted 3,608 tons of sulfur dioxide.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking fines of up to $109,000 per day for the violation.

In a statement, DTE said it is committed to protecting the environment and the health of people in the communities surrounding its facilities and is currently reviewing the lawsuit.

“We believe we have complied with all relevant regulations governing the operations conducted at EES Coke, and we remain committed to operating the plant responsibly while it continues to serve vital industrial and civil jobs by producing coke to fuel the steel industry and provide more than 170 jobs.

The Environmental Protection Agency says reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in the Detroit area will help local residents with asthma, which is highly prevalent in Wayne County. The decrease in sulfur dioxide would also mean less fog and acid rain, the agency said.

“The EPA recognizes the environmental justice concerns of community members in the River Rouge area, including the high asthma rate in the area near EES Coca-Cola,” the agency said in a statement. “The Environmental Protection Agency has an agency-wide commitment to promoting environmental justice and delivering benefits to underserved and overburdened communities.”

On June 1, the agency opened 45 days public comment window on its new plan to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions around the region, which includes limits on US steel emissions.

for more than a decadethe downstream Detroit area was out of “out of reach” for ambient air quality standards passed for SO2 in 2010. The EPA says efforts to reduce emissions from sources such as the DTE Trenton Canal coal-fired power plant and the Carmeuse facility Lime, also where the closure of the DTE River Rouge plant helped cut emissions.

The state’s efforts to cut emissions have been difficult and marked by a lawsuit brought by polluters such as US Steel, which has done so Fight back in court Against efforts to control emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, total sulfur dioxide emissions from the region have fallen by 70 percent since 2013, and in the absence of “problems near Zug Island,” it is currently down just under 44 parts per billion (ppb).

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a triumvirate of Virtual public hearings on the Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from 3 to 9 p.m. on June 16.

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