Editor's Note: The writer of this article has a conflict of interest; he is a U.S. Steel Corp. stockholder.
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The Allegheny County Health Department has reached an agreement with U.S. Steel regarding what health officials called "numerous violations of both county and federal emission standards" at the Clairton Coke Works.
The agreement and the associated complaint were filed last week following judicial review in the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
County officials recognize that U.S. Steel "expends considerable resources to understanding and fixing" pollution problems at the Clairton Works, said Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health at the Allegheny County Health Department. The plant heats coal to remove impurities and create coke, a fuel used in blast furnaces, as well as produce chemicals used in pharmaceuticals, paints and other products.
But, a health department spokeswoman said, U.S. Steel has failed to meet various commitments made to the county as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce air polluting emissions.
In January, the non-profit environmental activist group PennFuture announced plans to sue the county, U.S. Steel, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency for what the organization's chief legal counsel, George Jugovic Jr., called a continuing failure to enforce clean air laws.
A search of the federal court database over the past weekend did not find any record of the lawsuit yet being filed.
Pennsylvania budget achieves too little, costs too much
The Democratic governor is standing by his principles by not signing the $6 billion remainder of a $30 billion budget that he believes is unbalanced. But, by letting it become law by Monday without his signature, Wolf is sparing school districts the cost of borrowing additional money to make up for undelivered state funding ...
The question for Wolf is why he did not accept defeat on taxes sooner.
The question for Republican state lawmakers is whether their political victory was worth the heavy costs it imposed: on social service agencies that had to cut staff; on counties ... that paid interest on loans or ... lost interest on reserves they had to spend; and on school districts.
The question for both is how they're going to avoid a replay in fiscal year 2016-17, the budget for which is due by June 30.
A former state trooper from the Mon Valley has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he tried to trick his pension fund into not paying out benefits to his ex-wife.
Steven P. Grados, 51, of Carroll Twp., Washington County, was charged with mail fraud and counterfeiting a federal court seal, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Published reports indicate that Grados is a former Pennsylvania state police corporal, at one time assigned to Troop A, Greensburg barracks.
According to the three-count indictment, Grados created false documents that consisted of an opinion and court order and mailed them to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System offices in Harrisburg in order to deceive that office into discontinuing paying a portion of his state police pension to his former spouse.
(Above: Scene in the East End of McKeesport, below Highland Grove, during the March 1936 flood.)
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The winter of 1936 was like a lot of winters in Western Pennsylvania --- gloomy and cloudy, with rain and snow, alternating with snow and rain. But in mid-March, a storm center traveling south from Canada collided with another storm moving north from the Gulf of Mexico. Then two smaller storms merged into those.
And beginning March 9, 1936, and continuing for the next two weeks, parts of New England, New York and Pennsylvania were drenched with up to 12 inches of rain. It saturated the ground and filled creeks and streams. And when another storm system moved through on March 16, 1936, the water had nowhere to go.
The end result was the so-called "St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936" --- the worst ever seen in Western Pennsylvania. More than 80 people in the Pittsburgh area died in that flood, 80 years ago this month, including a McKeesport police officer, and property damage was estimated at well over $100 million.
(Above: Crowd watches the Monongahela River rise at the end of Market Street. This area was redeveloped in the 1950s and is now part of U.S. Steel's idled McKeesport Tubular Operations plant.)
At the beginning of March, snow was 4 to 6 inches deep in parts of the Allegheny and Applachian mountains.
Then came the rain. On March 16 and 17 alone, more than 2 inches of rain fell in McKeesport. Clairton reported 2.5 inches and Irwin nearly 3. More than 4 inches of rain was recorded in Somerset and 2.5 inches in Connellsville.
The combination of rain and warmer-than-usual temperatures melted that snow quickly. From the hills, the rain and melted snow flowed into creeks, and then into the Allegheny, Monongahela, Kiskimenitas, Youghiogheny and Conemaugh rivers, which all ultimately drained into the Ohio.
More than 70 years since the end of World War II, a West Mifflin man has been awarded France’s highest distinction to honor his military service.
Glenn E. Kempf, a life member of West Mifflin's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 914 Intrepid, has been named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French Republic. He received the award for his actions as a soldier in the United States Army while serving in Normandy and the Ardennes.
While assigned to the 45th Field Hospital as a medical technician, Kempf landed in Normandy June 7, 1944, on Omaha Beach. He also participated in the Battle of the Bulge later that same year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express the French Government’s deepest gratitude for your courage,” said Franck Roy, chief of staff to the French ambassador to the United States. “We are forever grateful to the men and women who fought for our freedom and to whom we owe it today.”
A 14-month investigation into drug trafficking in the Mon-Yough area resulted in the arrest today of 31 suspects and arrest warrants for another 16.
Detectives from the Allegheny County police narcotics unit made the arrests during a sweep of Glassport with the assistance of officers from Clairton, Glassport, McKeesport, Elizabeth Borough, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue.
More than 50 police officers participated.
The investigation included 115 undercover drug buys, police said. The vast majority of them --- 99 --- involved heroin, police said, while another 11 included marijuana. The others included suboxone, hydrocodone and oxycodone, as well as one cocaine buy, a spokesman said.
Police also confiscated two shotguns --- including one reported stolen in Tennessee --- a handgun and suspected heroin, a spokesman said.
Children from preschool to 10 years old are invited to participate in the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday (March 19) at the Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park.
The event is sponsored by the McKeesport Recreation Board.
Children should arrive beginning at 9:30 a.m. and events begin at 10 a.m., a spokeswoman said. All participants will receive their choice of a children's book donated by Book Country Clearinghouse in McKeesport.
A West Mifflin man has been sentenced in federal court to 72 months' imprisonment, followed by 15 years supervised release, on a charge of distribution of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said today.
United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Paul Robert Fike, 37.
Prosecutors allege that in June 2014, Fike distributed images containing material that depicted sexual acts performed by children. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.