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Leave industrialization in the past

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Leave industrialization in the past

Written By Jordon Slobodinsky, Opinions Editor

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Everyone knows about the origin of the nickname “Steel City,” and they know what it means to Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. The 20th century in Pittsburgh was a time of industrial success and some would say Pittsburgh is the reason that the United States was able to build anything. Steel was produced here at an insane rate and the blue collar workers of Pittsburgh were thriving in the 20th century.

Perhaps the part you do not hear about most is the vast amount of factories that lined the rivers of Pittsburgh and the amount of pollution that poured into our rivers and filled the air. The stories of pollution blacking out the sky and street lights coming on at noon are the scary stories that history has tried to erase, and the worst part is that Pittsburgh has not entirely moved past this problem.

Last week, residents of the Mon Valley were told to stay indoors because of several exceedances of the federal standards for hourly sulfur dioxide emissions. Now you might ask who the culprit of this is, and you need look no further than U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works (CCW) facility. A fire on Christmas Eve caused damages to machines that allowed for the sulfur dioxide to seep into the air. This is just another notch in a long line of miscues and errors for the CCW facility.

Last semester I wrote a long-form piece about the CCW and their effects on the locals, and what I found was shocking. CCW is a reminder of Pittsburgh’s past and a serial polluter that continues to plague this area.

Pittsburgh is no longer that city of industrial power, despite the few steel mills and factories that remain in the area. Nothing these days measures up to the industry that was 20th century Pittsburgh, and the CCW is something that is nothing short of a blemish in Pittsburgh’s effort to advance towards the future. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the CCW paid $1,620,316 in pollution fines, in 2018 and if that doesn’t sound like a problem to you then you might not care about the environment.

This city and the area have come too far to turn back now. UPMC, Highmark and a myriad of technology companies have paved the way for Pittsburgh to become a power house in the world. Medicine, education and technology are leading the way for this area, and we are held back by the likes of the CCW and other industrial plants. The future of this city and this country does not lie with these industrial factories, despite what our pumpkin pie colored president would have you believe.

The people in the Mon Valley are actually being poisoned by what the CCW is doing to the air that they are breathing. So what’s being done about this? Absolutely nothing, bar some fines that U.S. Steel will pay because they don’t care as long as they are reaping the benefits of what they are making. There is no education system put out by U.S. Steel to try and tell residents of the Mon Valley how they can protect themselves from the harmful chemicals being shoved into the air they breathe.

It is important that we as members of the Pittsburgh community learn to educate ourselves against this kind of pollution, and that we attempt to stop U.S. Steel and the CCW from continuing to poison residents. So what can you do?

Call county officials, call state officials, do your research and make sure to spread the word. U.S. Steel does not get criticized enough for their actions and we need them to know that what they are doing will not be acceptable to the future of Pittsburgh.

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