577 F.2d 825 (3rd Cir. 1978), 76-2630, American Iron and Steel Institute v. Occupational Safety and Health Admin., United States Dept. of Labor

Docket Nº:76-2630,
Citation:577 F.2d 825
Party Name:AMERICAN IRON AND STEEL INSTITUTE, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, National Steel Corporation, Sharon Steel Corporation, Shenango, Incorporated, United States Steel Corporation, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, Petitioners in Nos. 76-2358 and 76-2371, Republic Steel Corporation, Petitioner in Nos. 76-2359 and 76-2372, Bethlehem Steel Corp
Case Date:March 28, 1978
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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577 F.2d 825 (3rd Cir. 1978)


Corporation, National Steel Corporation, Sharon Steel

Corporation, Shenango, Incorporated, United States Steel

Corporation, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation,

Petitioners in Nos. 76-2358 and 76-2371,

Republic Steel Corporation, Petitioner in Nos. 76-2359 and 76-2372,

Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Petitioner in No. 76-2424,

Armco Steel Corporation, Petitioner in No. 76-2629,

Crucible Materials Group and Colt Industries, Inc., Cyclops

Corporation, Inland Steel Company, Petitioners in

No. 76-2630,

Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, Petitioner in No. 77-1016,

American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute, Petitioner in No. 77-1025,

C F & I Steel Corporation, Petitioner in No. 77-1088,



DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, United States of America, Respondent,

United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Intervenor.

Nos. 76-2358, 76-2359, 76-2371, 76-2372, 76-2424, 76-2629,

76-2630, 77-1016, 77-1025 and 77-1088.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 28, 1978

Argued Jan. 5, 1978.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Max O. Truitt, Jr., Michael S. Schooler, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Washington, D. C., for petitioners in Nos. 76-2358, 76-2371, 76-2424, 76-2629, 76-2630, 77-1016, 77-1025; Robert R. Morris, Hacker & Morris, Washington, D. C., Raymond T. Cullen, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, Pa., of counsel.

David J. Toomey, Frank E. Morris, Pennie & Edmonds, New York City, for petitioner in Nos. 76-2359 and 76-2372; Edward P. Weber, Jr., Republic Steel Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, Joseph W. Swain, Jr., Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, Philadelphia, Pa., of counsel.

Miles C. Cortez, Jr., Welborn, Dufford, Cook & Brown, Denver, Colo., for petitioner in No. 77-1088.

Carin A. Clauss, Sol. of Labor, Benjamin W. Mintz, Associate Sol. for Occupational Safety and Health, Allen H. Feldman, Asst. Counsel for Appellate Litigation, Dennis K. Kade, Charles I. Hadden, Attys., U. S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

George H. Cohen, Bredhoff, Gottesman, Cohen & Weinberg, Washington, D. C., James D. English, United Steelworkers of America, Pittsburgh, Pa., for intervenor; Bernard Kleiman, Chicago, Ill., of counsel.


Before ROSENN and HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges, and VAN ARTSDALEN, District Judge. [*]

ROSENN, Circuit Judge.

These consolidated cases present petitions for review 1 of a new health standard governing employee exposure to coke oven emissions promulgated by the Secretary of Labor ("Secretary") on October 19, 1976, pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act ("the Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. 2 In summary, the standard prescribes particular controls and procedures to reduce coke oven employees' exposure in specified regulated areas to toxic emissions in concentrations no greater than 0.15 mg. of the benzene-soluble fraction of total particulate matter (BSFTPM) per cubic meter of air (0.15 mg/m 3) present during the production of coke averaged over an eight-hour period. Additionally, the standard provides that if the prescribed controls do not reduce emission concentrations to the permissible exposure limit, employers would be required to provide respirators and to take additional steps to curtail excess emissions by conducting independent research and development.

Petitioners, coke manufacturers and their trade associations, make three principal claims: (1) the exposure limit of 0.15 mg/m 3 (milligrams per cubic meter of air) is invalid under the statute because there is no substantial evidence of health need for the prescribed exposure limit, and there is no evidence to support the feasibility of

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that limit; (2) the Secretary has exceeded his statutory power by combining a performance standard with specific required engineering and work practice controls and by requiring the coke manufacturers to conduct open-ended research to develop additional control technology, if necessary, to achieve the permissible exposure limit; (3) there is no substantial evidence to support the need for the specified various mandated controls and procedures 3 such as quarterly monitoring of employee exposure, prescribed protective clothing and hygiene facilities, the extent of the area to be regulated, engineering controls, and work practices.



Coke is utilized primarily by steel producing companies as a fuel in blast furnaces and foundries. It is the product of the destructive distillation of coal usually produced by heating coal in an inert atmosphere in a coke oven battery.

A coke oven battery is a huge rectangular structure, typically 200 or more feet long, 40 to 60 feet wide, and up to 50 feet in height. The battery is subdivided by refractory brick walls into a series of narrow ovens, approximately 18 inches wide and 13 to 20 feet high extending the full width of the battery. Between each oven are heating flues that burn gas derived from the coal to maintain high temperatures. This heating process causes the carbonization of the coal, resulting in the formation of the coke, a porous cellular substance, and various volatile gases. Each oven is provided with three or four charging holes in its roof through which coal is dropped into the oven, and two doors, one at each end of the oven, which are removed at the end of the coking cycle so that the incandescent coke can be pushed from the oven into the quench car. As the coal is coked, a considerable amount of gas generates. Almost all of it is captured and burned in the heating flues of the coke oven battery. This gas is removed from each oven through one or two vertical ducts, called stand pipes or ascension pipes, which are connected by horizontal ducts, called goosenecks, to one or two collector mains. In brief, coke production consists of three distinct operations: "charging," "coking," and "pushing."

The charging process begins by loading coal into a larry car which operates on a rail on top ("topside") of the battery. There are three or four coal hoppers or bins on the larry car for transferring coal from a coal bunker to the charging hold. After the coal is unloaded into the oven it is levelled to create a space between the coal and the oven so the gas evolved during the coking process can collect. To minimize escape of these gases, a process called "charging on the main" has been developed. The gases are forced out of the oven by "steam jet aspiration" through a stand pipe and into a "gooseneck" for transmittal to the collecting main. During the trip through the gooseneck, the gases are sprayed with condensation, "flushing liquor," from the collecting

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main. Prior to charging, a lid man removes the lids on the charging holes of the empty oven. The larry car operator then positions the car over the empty oven and he and the lid man then let the coal out of a hopper into the oven.

The second operation in the coking process is the heating of the ovens. The ovens are heated from 14 to 36 hours at temperatures of 2000o F. or more. After the heating is completed at the end of the coking cycle, the coke is ready for the third operation, the removal ("pushing") from the oven. A pusher machine on which is mounted a mechanical ram for pushing the coal from the oven is stationed in front of the oven's "push side door." The door is removed as is the door on the oven's opposite side, the "coke side door." The ram forces the coke out of the oven through the coke side door into a railroad car, the "quench car." The quench car carries the hot coke to the "quench tower" where it is cooled with water and then dumped onto the "coke wharf." Finally, it is conveyed to the screening stations for sizing. It is then ready for use.

The hazards to coke oven employees stem from the escape of volatile gas byproducts, a danger present at all three stages of the coking process. The composition of the gas from the coke oven varies with the type of coal, its moisture content, and the extent to which the coal has been coked. The gas contains numerous hydrocarbons and at varying times also includes particulate matter and tars. Emissions can leak out into the work place areas immediately adjacent to the ovens through the charging hole during the charging process. Because coke oven batteries are operated at extremely high temperatures and are subject to considerable thermal stress which often produces minute cracks in coke ovens, gas can leak from the ovens during the coking process. Emissions also can leak through the oven doors during the push, and from the quench car while the coke is carried to the quench tower. Finally, if for some reason the coal has not been thoroughly coked by the time it is pushed, the uncoked coal will precipitate a "green push" generating substantial gas emissions and characterized by flames shooting out of the coke mass with dense black smoke enveloping the entire area of the battery.

Efforts to reduce employee exposure to coke oven emissions began officially in 1969. The Secretary of Labor, acting under the authority of the Walsh-Healey Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 35-45 (1970), adopted a 1967 recommendation of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists that occupational exposures to "coal tar pitch volatiles" ("CTPV") be limited to 0.2 mg/m 3 on an eight hour day. 4 In 1971, the Secretary adopted that standard as an "established federal standard" pursuant to section 6(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 655(a) (1970). Later that same year, the American Iron and Steel Institute ("AISI") petitioned the Secretary to develop a standard designed specifically for coking operations,...

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