CREATE Lab: Shenango Channel



ACCAN (Allegheny County Clean Air Now) reports that the energy company DTE Shenango Coke exceeds permitted emissions limits every 5 of 7 days, based on information it had gathered on health impacts, video and analysis of measured emissions, which were published on the website Shenango Channel.1 As recently as June 11, DTE Shenango lost power again, triggering emergency venting and flaring for 53 minutes. This was despite promises to install power backup equipment. Avalon, Bellevue, the North Side, Lawrenceville, O'Hara and Fox Chapel were downwind and bore the brunt of the toxic and carcinogenic emissions – for example, a resident of Avalon, Leah Andrascik, complained that her two young children ‘could smell the noxious odors filling the air’ and interpreted them, as have many others in the community, as marking exposure to raw coke oven gas and other unprocessed emissions.

The Shenango Channel has recorded and broadcast video of these multi-colored emissions since January 2015, proof that toxic organics condense into various colors when battery is allowed to vent directly to the air.  These heavy organics are carcinogenic at minute levels, and include high levels of PAHs, which recent studies associate with autism.  Black smoke can come from burning raw coke oven gas, and other black and grey emissions can be escaping coal or coke.  All are toxic when inhaled. The Shenango Channel allows residents to compare days each week for air quality on a synchronized calendar that allows viewers to move to specific days of the year.2 Speck takes readings every minute and graphs them to allow residents to understand the data the measuring of air quality, while a map shows wind direction and strength to show the neighborhoods affected. The site also has a crowd-sourced citizen science engagement component, allowing visitors to share and discuss information they find on social media.


The Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab (CREATE Lab) explores socially meaningful innovation and deployment of robotic technologies. The CREATE Lab specifically aims to: Empower a technologically fluent generation through experiential learning opportunities in and outside of school. They define technology fluency as the confidence to author / creatively configure technology to pursue individual and collective goals. A second aim is to empower everyday citizens and scientists with affordable environmental sensing and documentation instruments, and powerful visualization platforms for sense-making and sharing of gathered scientific data - to promote evidence based decision making, public discourse and action.