Monday, August 25, 2003

Labor-Environmental Coalition Forces Steelworkers to Clean Up Its Act

A coalition of environmental, labor and community groups has forced a Portland steel mill to spend $105,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company repeatedly broke air-quality rules.
In an agreement filed last week in U.S. District Court, the Portland-based company said it would pay $55,000 to set up a system of air monitors around its North Portland steel mill and refinishing plant.

It also agreed to allow an independent monitor from PBS Environmental to make as many as 100 surprise inspections at its facilities during the next three years.
The settlement was a result of the work of a coalition of the U.S. Steelworkers, environmental and community groups:
The Environmental Justice Action Group, the United Steelworkers of America and the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment sued the company in 2001, alleging that the mill violated its state-administered air permits and the federal Clean Air Act about 100 times since 1995.


"When the government doesn't do its job of holding corporate polluters to the legal limits, citizens have to step in and seek enforcement of the law," said Dave Foster, local director for the Steelworkers union. Oregon DEQ officials admitted in 2000 that they mistakenly ignored the violations.