- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A steel foundry that employs hundreds of people in a trendy Pittsburgh neighborhood has come under fire by residents and environmental activists concerned about air pollution and activities there that they say have become a nuisance.

They want McConway & Torley LLC to reduce pollution, truck traffic and noise from the Lawrenceville foundry, the Pittsburgh Tribune reports (https://bit.ly/1FCd4BG ). They also want foundry officials to support a permit that could cut its steel production by 77 percent.

The nearly 150-year-old foundry never would have been allowed in the booming Lawrenceville neighborhood today, said Rachel Filippini, executive director of Group Against Smog and Pollution.

“A lot of people really don’t know this company exists,” she said. “When people think of air pollution, they think of the big ones - the Clairton works, the Cheswick power plant, Shenango.”

Lawrenceville has become one of Pittsburgh’s most popular neighborhoods, the paper said. Vacant buildings have been converted into six-figure homes and store fronts and the area has seen an influx of bars, restaurants, bicycle shops, retro stores and a zombie boutique shop.

“The neighborhood is changing. Its residents now have different expectations about the environment,” said Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental quality at the Health Department. “Those people have the right to clean air. They have the rightful expectation that the foundry is going to be compliant with all applicable regulations.”

But production cuts could threaten more than 400 jobs, employees said.

McConway & Torley, a nonunion shop, has about 100 salaried employees and 325 hourly workers, said Vice President of Operations Scott Mautino.

The plant produces about 60 percent of North America’s railroad couplers, which link train cars. Cutting production would make current employment unsustainable, plant officials said.

The say they are currently in compliance with state and county air quality guidelines and that the neighborhood doesn’t fully understand the foundry’s importance nationally.

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