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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION (09/06/74)

decided: September 6, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, APPELLEE. COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, APPELLANT, V. UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and County of Allegheny v. United States Steel Corporation, a corporation, No. 1550 April Term, 1972, in Equity.

COUNSEL

Marvin A. Fein, Special Assistant Attorney General, for appellant, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Gerald P. Dodson, Special Assistant County Solicitor, with him Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Acting County Solicitor, for appellant, County of Allegheny.

Blair S. McMillin, with him Robert L. Potter, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 186]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, dated June 25, 1973, which reinstated that court's order of May 23, 1973. The lower court intended its May 23, 1973 order to "result in finding solutions leading to a resolution of the problems" confronting the parties (as well as the court) arising out of the filing by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the County of Allegheny (Appellants) of a petition (as amended) for a Rule To Show Cause why United States Steel Corporation (USS) should not be found in civil contempt for violations of certain provisions of a consent decree dated September 25, 1972.

This case had its beginning when years of negotiations between the Appellants and USS failed to result in a plan satisfactory to the Appellants for the control of the emission of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide from USS's Clairton Works, located at Clairton, Pennsylvania. This plant is the largest by-product coke plant in the United States. On February 11, 1972, the Appellants filed a complaint in equity charging USS with, among other things, violating air pollution regulations. After months of negotiations, and conciliation before Judge Silvestri Silvestri of the court below, the Appellants and USS presented to Judge Silvestri a consent decree which he signed on September 25, 1972.*fn1

A part of the consent decree called for its approval by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which approval was received on March 22, 1973.

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 187]

As has been pointed out by the Appellants, USS, pursuant to Section 307 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 1857h-5(b)(1) and (2), could have petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for review of the standards in the consent decree which were subject to EPA approval. USS filed no such petition.

Subsequent to the filing of the September 25, 1972 consent decree, certain governmental inspectors on numerous occasions visited the Clairton Works to investigate compliance with the consent decree. As a result of their investigation, on March 27, 1973, the Appellants filed the petition now before us. In the petition and its amendment (filed April 5, 1973), the Appellants charge USS with violating four provisions of the consent decree, viz., paragraphs numbers 1-D, 1-E, 2-E and 10. These provisions read as follows:

1-D "On and after December 31, 1972, if a self-sealing oven door continues to leak fifteen (15) minutes after the oven is charged, it shall be adjusted, repaired or replaced prior to the next coking cycle which starts during the next daylight turn after the leak is discovered so that ...


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