Title V air quality permitting lawsuit in Pennsylvania


Staff member
Apr 16, 2023
It looks like two chemical plants in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (home to Pittsburg and other industrial cities) didn't receive Title V air permits as required by the federal Clean Air Act. In response, the national environmental group, Food & Water Watch, has filed a lawsuit against the Allegheny County Health Department, claiming that "the department failed to issue a Title V permit to Synthomer by the 18-month deadline despite its application for a permit in February 2022, and similarly failed to renew Neville’s expired permit by the October 2021 deadline." That's according to news reported in this article.

I understand that Title V permits are generally issued by state or local agencies and that this type of Title V permit is more specifically referred to as “Clean Air Act part 70” permits (see Title V permitting info provided on EPA's website). In this case, Allegheny County Health Department is the local agency responsible for this type of permitting and, as such, should have issued/reissued permits for the chemical plants with specific pollution control requirements based on federal or state regulations. Assuming the chemical plants are significant emitters of air pollution within major population centers, I agree it is very concerning that proper permits were never issued.

One important detail that seemed missing from the article was whether, and to what extent, specific minority/low-income (environmental justice) communities are being affected by air pollution generated by these plants. I'm wondering whether there's a specific analysis that Allegheny County Health Department is responsible for completing in order to properly assess public health effects on these groups and whether the unpermitted chemical plants are failing to implement any specific Clean Air Act requirements critical to safeguarding public health.
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States
This is one thing these chemical plants need to be on top of, it should be one of their first priorities. Right? I feel like if you're dealing with any chemicals, especially potentially harmful, they need to follow these rules properly.

So they were able to file a permit back in Feb 2022, but it never got past the application stage? Or whoever was in charge of filing it never did? Sorry was confused by that portion.

Either way, they should have double checked to make sure they were 100% good to go. It also makes you wonder if they are following the rules for other aspects of dealing with chemical waste.
Here's something interesting about one of the companies in the Lawsuit. Neville Chemical Company was fined back in 2021 for the emissions from its plant. Here's the link to the article, https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stori...ion-into-bad-odor/7O5URWCSBFF5ZLDCTH5CADPHBA/

"The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) issued an enforcement order today to Neville Chemical Company for violating the emissions limits in their Title V permit during an overnight incident in early September."

So the health department was aware of issues that year in 2021, which is probably why they didn't renew the permit later that same month? Doesn't this all sound a little odd?