- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. (AP) - A local environmental group has sued Shenango Inc. over emissions from a Pittsburgh-area coke plant days after county health department officials said the plant on Neville Island was apparently making progress on anti-pollution efforts.

The federal lawsuit filed Friday by the Group Against Smog and Pollution contends the plant has violated limits from its coke oven combustion stacks on 264 days since 2012, among other violations.

The lawsuit comes a month after the company agreed with the Allegheny County Health Department to spend just over $1 million on pollution control upgrades and pay a $300,000 fine. County health officials recently reported that the plant had no emission violations for the last two weeks.

“The recent agreement between Shenango and the Allegheny County Health Department did not do enough to limit pollution from the coke oven doors or combustion stack,” said Rachel Filippini, GASP’s executive director.

A spokesman for DTE Energy, which has owned the plant since 2008, said the company has pledged to complete several emission controls by June 30 and is ahead of schedule. The spokesman, Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit specifically but said the company plans to continue speaking to residents in hopes of improving the company’s environmental performance.

In 2012, the company agreed to pay $1.75 million in a federal settlement over persistent air and water pollution violations. Ted Popovich, a residence of nearby Ben Avon, said the steps taken since then haven’t been enough.

“Given how many people live close to this plant, they should be doing everything in their power to make sure it operates according to the law,” Popovich said.

The plant, several miles west of downtown Pittsburgh, is less than a mile from several smaller suburbs along the Ohio River.