Regulators: Erie Coke Corp. no longer obligated to operate under prior court settlements

Associated Press

The Erie Coke Corp., after spending millions of dollars on pollution control improvements and fines, has satisfied environmental regulators who tried to shut it down.

Court filings show Erie Coke is no longer obligated to operate under court-enforced settlements because pollution was successfully curtailed at the northwestern Pennsylvania plant, the Erie Times-News reported on Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1T2auJE).

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The state Department of Environmental Protection and Erie Coke, a producer of high-performance foundry coke, agreed to terminate a 2010 consent decree in May. That deal required the plant to make $15 million in improvements, pay $4 million in fines and post a $2 million bond.

"Erie Coke not only met but went above their obligations under the consent decree to make significant upgrades to this facility and showed their commitment to meeting the air quality standards we have in place today," said John Guth, regional director of the DEP's Northwest Regional Office.

DEP spokeswoman Melanie Williams said the 2010 consent decree "required extensive repairs or replacement to the ovens and significant upgrades to the air control devices."

On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed paperwork to terminate a second consent decree filed in 2011. The federal settlement addressed emissions concerns not dealt with in the separate settlement with state regulators. It required Erie Coke to pay an additional $300,000.

The plant's legal issues began in 2009, when it was sued by the EPA and the state DEP over environmental violations.

"Erie Coke properly and timely performed all of the obligations under the consent decrees," said Louis Naugle, Erie Coke's lawyer. "People are ready to put all of that behind them. It is the end of that chapter."

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com