Washington — The Justice Department said Wednesday the owners of the Dearborn complex previously known as Rouge Steel will pay a $1.35 million fine for violating the Clean Air Act and will install filters at Dearborn schools to prevent harm to children as part of a consent decree
The deal announced by the Justice Department and state of Michigan said AK Steel Corp. will pay the civil penalty and implement a variety of procedures to reduce future violations and install dynamic air filtration systems at the Salina Elementary and Salina Intermediate Schools across Ferney from the plant.
The settlement resolves 42 violation notices issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and two notices of violation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency alleging violations resulting from a wide variety of air emission sources issued against the plant’s former owner Severstal.
AK Steel purchased the facility in September from the Russian firm and has taken responsibility for past violations and improving its compliance with environmental regulations.
The consent decree will require AK Steel to develop an environmental management system for the facility with third-party auditing every six months, annually inspect and continuously monitor the performance of the pollution control equipment at the facility’s furnace and implement a dust control policy to prevent large emissions into nearby neighborhoods. The settlement will be open for public comment for 30 days before a federal judge can approve it.
“This settlement will result in better management and monitoring practices at the AK Steel facility and measures that will help prevent and reduce dust and hazardous air pollution in neighboring communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “In agreeing to this judicially enforceable settlement, AK Steel is committed to prevent the violations of its predecessor from recurring, inform the public about its future environmental compliance and provide cleaner air for local school children.”
The move will help residents, EPA said.
“People living in Dearborn and southwest Detroit have long been concerned about air pollution from this steel mill,” said Regional Administrator Susan Hedman for EPA. “The consent decree will result in improved air quality in these communities and help prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act.”
Upon full implementation of the consent decree requirements, particulate matter emissions, including metal hazardous air pollutants, from AK Steel should be reduced by approximately 100 tons per year.
“Manufacturing facilities that are located near neighborhoods and schools have a responsibility to protect the clean air that residents breathe,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade in Detroit. “This settlement will directly improve air quality for our community in Dearborn and Southwest Detroit.”
Michigan praised the settlement as well.
“This is welcome news for residents who live near the steel mill,” said Director Dan Wyant of MDEQ. “We are pleased to finally have the past environmental violations addressed and resolved and we look forward to a strong working relationship with new plant owners AK Steel.”
“We have an obligation to protect our air, lands and waterways across the state of Michigan,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette for the state of Michigan. “This is a step forward for cleaner air for the residents of Dearborn.”