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Residents Hand-Deliver Letter to Coke Plant Asking for Face-to-Face Meeting

Members of Clean Water Action and several Neville Island area residents gathered at the entrance to the Shenango Inc. Coke plant to hand-deliver a letter to the plant manager. They're asking Steven Guzy to hold a public accountability meeting to address concerns about air pollution.

A recent report released by the Allegheny County Health Department shows that 37.6 percent of all students in the Northgate School District, which serves Avalon and Bellevue, have asthma. This is a major concern for Bellevue resident Bill Bartlett.

"I have a 7-year-old in the Northgate School District. I recently moved to the area and didn't know about the air quality issue, but the statistics on asthma are downright alarming, and I'm trying to figure out what the problem is, and how to keep my son safe," he said.

Ted Glatz echoed the health concern. He said that shortly after moving to Avalon, his son developed asthma, as did his nephew. He thought that was a coincidence, until he read the county health department report.

The plant was cited by the county 114 times between January 14, 2011 and August 23, 2011, and was fined on August 26.

"Shenango has appealed the fines. They're not just paying and fixing the problems, they're fighting it and we want to know why. Why are you fighting this instead of fixing it and cleaning it up?" said Julie St. John, a community organizer with Clean Water Action.

The group showed up at Shenango and asked security if they could talk to plant manager Steven Guzy. Guzy briefly met with them. Bill Bartlett gave him the letter and explained why they were there. Ben Avon resident Ted Popovich got to talk to Guzy one-on-one and told him, "We're disappointed that the corporate stance is they're appealing the violations, because they're meeting federal regulations, but the county is the keeper of our air, and they're more stringent than the feds, and we like it that way, and we want them to comply."

Guzy repeatedly said that the plant is working on those issues and continues to work with the county. He didn't agree to a public meeting with the group, but told Popovich he'd meet him for coffee and to watch emissions rise from the plant.