Erie Coke Appeals DEP's Decision to Deny Operating Permit
Erie Coke on Tuesday filed an appeal challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection's (DEP) decision to deny the plant's operating permit.
The appeal comes one day after a letter was hand-delivered Monday to Erie Coke informing plant managers of the DEP's decision. The same day, the DEP also filed an injunction in Erie County Court to shut down the coke production facility for years of environmental violations.
In its appeal, Erie Coke said the denial of its operating license "would effectively cause the permanent and irrevocable closure of Erie Coke’s coke manufacturing facility."
It also said coke batteries cannot be shut down and allowed to cool without causing damage, putting the plant permanently out of business and causing the permanent loss of 137 "living wage manufacturing jobs" that it said "are in short supply in the Erie area."
The DEP said it started to see an increasing number of air quality violations at the plant starting in June 2017.
The environmental agency said it denied Erie Coke's application to renew its operating permit because "Erie Coke has failed to adequately demonstrate an ability or its intent to comply."
Erie Coke said in the appeal, the DEP is ignoring the progress that has been made. Plant representatives said most of its compliance improvement has happened since the DEP issued an administrative order in February 2019, which required the plant to submit plans for process improvements and a schedule for the work required. The appeal also said "bringing a large heavy-industrial manufacturing operation as complex and intricate as the facility into compliance is a time-consuming task."
The plant was nearly shut down in 2010, but a court-ordered settlement was reached, the DEP said. It was required to make certain repairs to its coke ovens, but some have been in use without being rebuilt. Erie Coke also paid a $4 million fine.
The foundry coke production facility is located at the foot of East Ave. on Erie's bayfront.
Read the appeal
Read the denial letter
Erie News Now just wrapped up a week-long series taking an in-depth look at the plant's operations.