Last update:
2021-02-15

Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing at U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, PA, USA

U.S. Steel has proposed to drill six hydrologically fractured horizontal wells for natural gas on the Edgar Thomson Plant site in Braddock, Pennsylvania as well as a fracking pad near Turtle Creek.


Description:

Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, Pennsylvania was originally built in 1872 by Andrew Carnegie and was called Carnegie, McCandless & Company. This mill quickly became the largest producer of steel in the world [1]. The steel produced at the plant influenced the onset of the industrial revolution [2]. Both the raw and completed materials are transported by rail attached to the 176-acre property.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing at U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, PA, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:PA
Location of conflict:Braddock
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Raw Materials
Electricity
Natural Gas
Steel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Edgar Thomson Mill has the ability to generate 2.9 million net tons of raw steel annually [17]. The process to produce steel is quite energy intensive, so in 2017 U.S. Steel signed a lease with Merrion Gas and Oil company to build hydraulically fractured methane wells on site to help power their steel production [8,10]. The plan is to frack 6 wells, some on site near the mill, and some with a fracking pad along the eastern edge of the property, and then have gas lines go straight to the mill. While Merrion and Oil has never fracked unconventional wells, nor in Pennsylvania, all 6 wells would be unconventional horizontal wells, going 6,700 feet down and 10,000 laterally [10][11]. Ideally, seismic testing would be done in North Braddock and East Pittsburgh to more accurately predict where the gas-rich shale is.

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Project area:>5.26
Level of Investment:Negligible
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:>21,000
Start of the conflict:27/12/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Edgar Thomson Steel Mill/Plant from United States of America - Stakeholder
Merrion Oil and Gas from United States of America - Stakeholder
US Steel Corporation from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Zoning and Hearing Board of East Pittsburgh
State of Pennsylvania Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Braddock Inclusion Project (https://thebraddockinclusionproject.com/)
North Braddock Residents for Our Future (https://www.facebook.com/northbraddockresidentsforourfuture/)
NoPetroPA (https://nopetropa.com/)
GASP (https://gasp-pgh.org/)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Fires, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other Environmental impactsParticulate matter 2.5, methane, benzene, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts, Accidents
Other Health impactsPotential for fracking related illnesses: premature births, decreased birth rates, migraines, sinus infections, severe fatigue, asthma attacks, and cancer.
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Displacement
Outcome
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Since the project had permits expire and it was unable to gain permits from the State of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the project is temporarily suspended. An alternative to this would be canceling any possibilities of the project altogether or exploring ways to transition the project from fracking to being based more on renewable energy.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project applicants were unable to receive a permit from the State of PA due to a deficient permit application. The East Pittsburgh permit expired and corporations were denied an extension. Applicants plan to go to the State Common Pleas Court to appeal the decision, with the project possibly still moving forward. The US Steel Edgar Thompson Plant is still in operation, and Braddock residents as well as neighboring towns will continue to experience the air pollution impacts.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[5] PA Environmental Justice Areas
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Braddock, PA
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] In the Shadow of Steel Mill
[click to view]

[3] Environmentalists by Necessity
[click to view]

[4] Environmental Racism. Small Towns. Huge Pollution
[click to view]

[6] What Does Environmental Racism Look Like? Come to Braddock, PA
[click to view]

[8] Hundreds Show up at a Raucous Hearing to Oppose Fracking Wells at U.S. Steel's Plant in Braddock
[click to view]

[7] Company Planning to Drill for Gas at U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson Mill
[click to view]

[9] Residents Shout Down Oil and Gas Execs Over Fracking at U.S. Steel Mill
[click to view]

[10] U.S. Steel Agrees to Allow Fracking at Steel Mill
[click to view]

[11] Merrion Oil and Gas
[click to view]

[12] Exclusive: Hear from the company that wants to drill at U.S. Steel plant
[click to view]

[13] Study: Low birth weights linked to fracking sites
[click to view]

[14] Study: Fracking associated with migraines, fatigue, chronic nasal and sinus symptoms
[click to view]

[15] The well next door: East Pittsburgh and North Braddock diverge on the local impact of proposed fracking
[click to view]

[16] Fracking project at US Steel Plant denied local permit extension
[click to view]

[17] Mon Valley Works Edgar Thomson Plant
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Erin Jacoski, Skidmore College, [email protected]; Andrew J. Schneller, Skidmore College, [email protected], Jessica Plotnick, Skidmore College, [email protected]
Last update15/02/2021
Comments
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