National Geographic : 1980 Jun
Environmental activist Jim Scherer: "Bethlehem's system for treating blast furnace water is so good it's now considered the industry standard." Jim Scherer is one of about a thousand Bethlehem Steel people whose jobs keep them active in Bethlehem's environmental control program. As a senior environmen tal engineer at our Lacka wanna, N.Y, steel plant, Jim supervises the two dozen people who operate the plant's eight major water control systems. These eight systems cost Bethlehem $52 million to engineer and install, plus nearly $3.9 million each year to operate. "We've spent a whale of a lot of money on our water control program here," says Jim. "But we've spent it wisely and have gotten good results. "For example, when I first became active in water control in 1961, we were only partially treating the waste waters from our blast furnaces and then discharging 100% of this water into Lake Erie. Today a complicated water treatment system does a highly efficient job of cleaning the water and discharges only 10% back to the lake. The other 90% is recirculated back through the system. "Bethlehem developed this pollution-control technology at our Beth lehem, Pa., plant, and now four of our plants are using it. The EPA has rec ognized the method as the best way to bring blast furnace gas scrubber water to within current clean water standards." Bethlehem's commitment: To do what is necessary to protect public health. We've made substantial progress in controlling pol lution at all our facilities and we're planning to do more. We've already spent $700 million for pollution control equipment and may have to spend several hundred million more in the years ahead. But we believe there's a limit. To require industry to "purify" the air and water beyond what is necessary to protect health does not make good economic or energy sense. A balance must be struck between an absolutely pure environment and a healthy environment, so that the economy of this nation has the opportunity to thrive. Our position is clearly explained in our Statement on Environmental Quality Control. If you would like a copy, write: Public Affairs Department, Rm. 476, Bethlehem Steel Corpora tion, Bethlehem, PA 18016. Bethlehem W The Lackawanna Plant's Water Control Station No. 9 houses the controls and pumps for the blastfurnace gas washer water recircula tion system. Placed "on stream" in late 1979, the proj ect cost $4 million. Water is recirculated through the sys tem's 30-in.-diameterpipes and five large tanks at a rate of about 7500 gallons a minute.