AK Steel, Middletown

Feb 10: SunCoke gets final permit, can start construction
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland touts project as a "major job creation investment"

MIDDLETOWN -- "SunCoke Energy now has its air permit to build a $360 million coke oven facility in Middletown, and can begin construction immediately, according to state officials... The SunCoke plant, set to be built on a 157-acre plot off Yankee Road in Middletown, was plagued with myriad issues since it was first announced two years ago. The air permit is its second after the first was the subject of several appeals and a lawsuit. Lisa Frye, president of opposition group SunCoke Watch Inc., said they are still reviewing the permit and discussing legal moves. However, she called SunCoke’s pursuit of a more stringent NSR permit 'a victory for our group,'" Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Feb 8: SunCoke commits $280M for coke plant this year

People in opposition to the SunCoke coke plant gathered for a press conference held last April. (Nick Graham/Middletown Journal)

MIDDLETOWN -- "Sunoco Inc., parent company of SunCoke Energy Inc., said it 'remains committed' to building a coke plant in Middletown and plans to invest up to $280 million this year for its construction... Since the project was announced nearly two years ago, the now estimated $360 million coke oven facility has been caught up in various permitting issues and civil lawsuits. The plant would supply metallurgical coke, a vital steelmaking raw material, to AK Steel’s Middletown Works for at least the next 20 years and add about 500 temporary and 75 permanent jobs to the area if built," Jessica Heffner, Dayton Daily News. Published February 5.

Oct 29: AK certifies facilities compliant with air emissions permits
Steelmaker certifies compliance as part of SunCoke Energy plant project

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP -- "AK Steel Corp. has sent in a letter to state officials certifying that its Ohio facilities are in compliance with air emissions regulations despite not being required to do so by a new air emissions permit its partner, Tenn.-based SunCoke Energy, is seeking for a coke plant in Middletown. SunCoke was required to certify its plants were in compliance to receive the New Source Review permit requested from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for a new $340 million coke oven plant to be built off Yankee Road in Middletown," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Sep 16: Residents file pollution lawsuit vs. SunCoke unit

HAVERHILL -- "Four private citizens have filed a lawsuit against Haverhill North Coke Co. of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and its parent company, SunCoke Energy Inc., claiming that emissions from the Haverhill plant are in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southwestern District of Ohio by Glenn Graff, Kelly Graff, Hildreth Maddox and Peggy Maddox, who own property near the plant. Mrs. Graff contends that she is ill-suited to fight off 'carcinogenic and other deleterious agents released from the facility' due to a brain tumor, and the Maddoxes also indicated they are unable to endure the alleged emissions because they are elderly," Metal Bulletin.

Mom becomes activist to take on coke plant

Lisa Frye
Lisa Frye, pictured inside her Monroe home, is the president of SunCoke Watch Inc., and has been fighting SunCoke for the last 18 months.

MONROE -- "Her leadership has kept the cause alive. Without Frye, neighbors say they would not have been nearly as effective in pushing SunCoke to pursue a New Source Review air permit after arguments were made that its first minor source air permit issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may violate the Clean Air Act. SunCoke voluntarily halted construction in January and has submitted an application for an NSR permit, which is under review by the Ohio EPA. 'I think she has been instrumental in postponing this (plant) and forcing a second look at their permit,' said Sally Pearson, who lives on Ohio 4 in Monroe.'I think she has just been instrumental in banding the neighborhood together and I think she is truly concerned about the health and safety of our community,'" Jessica Hefner, Middletown Journal.

Sep 9: Monroe not backing down from coke plant fight
City Council to appeal dismissal of lawsuit in federal court

MONROE -- "The city of Monroe is not backing down in its fight to block a proposed $340 million coke plant in Middletown near the Monroe border. Monroe City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday, Sept. 8, to appeal the dismissal of the city’s Clean Air Act citizen lawsuit in federal court against Middletown Coke Company and its parent entity, SunCoke Energy. The lawsuit was dismissed Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. City Council passed the legislation to confirm the city’s intentions to take legal action against SunCoke, according to the resolution.," Denise Wilson, Middletown Journal.

Sep 3: Air quality, jobs remain hot topics at SunCoke hearing

Robert Snook of Lemon Twp. addresses members of the Ohio EPA during the SunCoke Energy permit hearing. (Pat Auckerman/Middletown Journal)

MIDDLETOWN -- "More than 200 people on both sides of the fence of the proposed SunCoke Energy plant to be built in Middletown attended a public hearing to ask questions and give testimony on the draft air permit for the project... Several residents questioned SunCoke’s safety record and ability to remain in compliance with EPA regulations, citing six notices of violation and one warning letter from the Ohio EPA, and two notices of violation from the U.S. EPA since the company’s Haverhill North Coke Company facility opened in 2005," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Sep 2: Hearing today on permit for $340M SunCoke plant
Ohio EPA to discuss air permit for proposed SunCoke facility

MONROE -- "The plan to build a new $340 million coke oven facility in Middletown is entering round two as the new air permit requested by SunCoke Energy for the facility will be presented at a hearing.... The state agency will consider comments about how the proposed air pollution controls will protect health and the environment; whether appropriate air pollution controls are required to be installed; and whether all sources of pollution have been identified and characterized on the draft permit. Comments on potential traffic, noise, jobs, economic development, property values or the popularity of the project will not be discussed, Ohio EPA officials said," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Sep 1: Residents divided on SunCoke plant

Gene Wagers' neighborhood is close to the site of the new SunCoke plant. “You’re talking quality of life as far as I am concerned,” Wagers said. “This is a quiet neighborhood and no matter what they say, that plant is going to bring so much pollution and so much noise.” (Gary Stelzer/Middletown Journal)

MONROE -- "When it comes to the $340 million SunCoke Energy coke plant planned in Middletown — and the $358,245.96 the city of Monroe has spent in legal actions fighting it — residents are on both sides of the fence. A random sampling of more than a dozen city residents Monday indicates neighborhood opinions are as divided on SunCoke as their locations are split by Ohio 63. The closer they live to the plant —Niederlander Lane, Carol Ann Lane and Serena Way — the more strongly they oppose the project," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- SunCoke air permit hearing moved, Oxford Press.

Aug 3: Dicks Creek slated for cleanup
Pollution in area includes PCBs

COLUMBUS -- "Cleanup could finally begin on one of Ohio's most polluted waterways, 12 years after PCBs and other deadly compounds were found in Dicks Creek in Middletown. In 2000, state and federal governments sued AK Steel to clean up the creek, which was contaminated with PCBs. They settled in 2006 and have been working on cleanup requirements ever since. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took on AK Steel in 1997, when inspectors found PCBs leaking into Dicks Creek from a holding pond at the company's Middletown plant," Erin Dostal, Columbus Dispatch. Published August 1.

July 29: Monroe says NSR permit confirms its claims against SunCoke

Opponents of the SunCoke coke plant gathered for a press conference held in support of the SunCoke coke plant April 30th. (Nick Graham/Middletown Journal)

MONROE -- "The city of Monroe has issued a statement stating the SunCoke Energy New Source Review draft permit issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency confirms its claims that the company’s current permit does not meet legal requirements to protect the public and the environment... 'We are glad to see that Middletown Coke and Ohio EPA are heading down the correct permitting path,' said Monroe Mayor Robert Routson said in the statement. 'But this is a complex permit, and we just received it. We’ll have to wait and see whether it adequately protects the public and the environment,'" Jessica Heffner, Dayton Daily News.

MIDDLETOWN -- SunCoke gets permit, closer to construction, Project called vital to securing local steel business, Jessica Heffner, Oxford Press.

July 7: Residents concerned about coke conveyer emissions

Supporters and opponents to the SunCoke coke plant gathered for a press conference held in support of the SunCoke coke plant April 30th. (Nick Graham/Middletown Journal)

MIDDLETOWN -- "Concerns from residents stretched far beyond the half mile a proposed conveyor system would transport coke from the $340 million SunCoke Energy plant to AK Steel’s property. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and its local agent, Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services, held a hearing Monday, July 6 regarding the draft permit for the conveyor system. The conveyor would connect to SunCoke’s own 400-foot section and then transport coke another one-third mile to a loading station on AK Steel Property. About 15 residents attended the meeting at the Middletown city building," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

June 16: Location of air quality monitors for SunCoke plant up for discussion

Site of the proposed SunCoke plant. (Nick Graham/Middletown Journal)

MIDDLETOWN -- "A hearing will be held to discuss the possible location of air monitors required by an air pollution permit for the new $340 million SunCoke Energy coke plant to be built in Middletown. The Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will hold the meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 25 in the Middletown City Council Chambers of the Middletown City Building, One Donham Plaza. As part of the permit’s conditions, SunCoke must pay for monitors to determine ambient air quality in the area of the facility," Jessica Heffner, Oxford Press.

May 4: SunCoke vote pits vice mayor against city, family
Councilman supports the facility, while the mother of his grandchildren leads a group that opposes it

Lisa Frye of Monroe and Middletown Vice Mayor Jim Armbruster

MIDDLETOWN -- "Jim Armbruster the grandfather and Jim Armbruster the Middletown City Councilman had to settle an inner-self battle. When it came time for City Council to vote on the proposed $340 million coke oven facility off Yankee Road, he received a letter from Lisa Frye, his ex-daughter-in-law, the mother of three of his grandchildren and the president of the SunCoke Watch Inc. opposition group, urging him to abstain from voting. She said Armbruster should be more 'concerned' about his grandchildren and 'their health and their future, every aspect of their lives.' If Armbruster supported the SunCoke project, which she says would harm her family and reduce the value of her property, 'What message is that sending to his grandchildren?,'" Rick McCrab, Middletown Journal. Published May 2.

Apr 8, 2009: EPA: SunCoke submits new permit application

SunCoke oven design
Official says new permit will 'eliminate any doubt' plant can meet air quality rules

MIDDLETOWN -- "The Ohio EPA has received SunCoke Energy's newest air pollution control permit application for the proposed Middletown Coke facility. The new permit application is more stringent than the company's current one, but does not include the same requirement for emissions credits. The company is seeking the new permit "to eliminate any doubt" it can meet air quality requirements, said Ryan Osterholm, project manager for the $340 million facility," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Mar 6, 2009: Dicks Creek cleanup to begin this summer
AK Steel Corp. representatives said work should be done by 2010

MIDDLETOWN -- "Pending permit approval, representatives from AK Steel Corp. said cleanup of two local waterways should begin this summer. The company intends work to be complete in 2010. About 20 people, many of them environmental agency representatives, attended a meeting held Thursday, March 5, at the Middletown Public Library to inform the community about the work along Dicks Creek and Monroe Ditch. The meeting was part of a 2006 consent between AK, the U.S. and Ohio environmental protection agencies, Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to clean up the sites, which have been contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls — a probable carcinogen," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Feb 23, 2009: AK Steel to hold public meeting on Dicks Creek

MIDDLETOWN -- "It is reported that AK Steel Corporation will conduct a meeting to update the community on the ongoing cleanup of Dicks Creek. The meeting will be held March 5th 2009 in the community room of the Middletown Public Library. Under an agreement reached between AK Steel and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, it is removing PCB contaminated sediment and soil from affected areas of the creak and prevent PCBs from reaching the creek. The work began in 2007," Steel Guru. Published February 22.

Jan 29, 2009: City of Monroe files Clean Air Act lawsuit

Haverhill plant MONROE -- "The City of Monroe, Ohio today filed suit against Middletown Coke Company, Inc. and its parent company, SunCoke Energy, Inc., for violations of the federal Clean Air Act in connection with the construction of a coke manufacturing plant adjacent to the AK Steel Middletown Works in Middletown.  The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and an injunction to halt construction of the coke plant until necessary permitting and pollution control requirements are met.Middletown Coke intends to construct a new plant to produce steel-making coke for AK Steel.  The plant, coal and coke piles, and rail facilities would be constructed on undeveloped farmland approximately 1,200 feet from residences in Monroe," Main Street Monroe, published January 28.

Jan 22, 2009: Ohio EPA: It's OK to start building $340M coke plant
Attorney for city of Monroe says it will try to block construction at Yankee Road site near its borderapproved

MIDDLETOWN -- "SunCoke Energy has the go-ahead to start construction on its $340 million coke oven facility in Middletown. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency informed SunCoke on Tuesday, Jan. 20, that the U.S. EPA had issued a memo stating it has no additional comments regarding the permit, said Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer. The Ohio EPA's permit decision, specifically its application of air emission credits associated with the closing of an AK Steel Corp. sinter plant in June 2003, has been under review by the federal agency since the permit was issued Nov. 25. Until a decision was made, the Ohio EPA advised that SunCoke postpone construction, Lauer said," Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal.

Jan 6, 2009: AK Steel reports Dicks Creek clean up continues

Excavated area after backfilling with clean soil, final grading, seeding and straw.
MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel released information today about the ongoing clean up of PCBs in and around Dicks Creek and Monroe Ditch. The report stated that soil remediation has occurred in two key areas and included removal of trees, vegetation, debris and soil. About 2,500 tons of soil and waste were excavated and sent off-site for disposal. The process was completed by adding clean soil and gravel, 6 inches of topsoil and grass. The company also noted progress on its project to prevent PCBs from moving into the creek by planting trees and shrubs and announced a full-scale treatment system for creek sediment. Detailed plans will be available at the Middletown Public Library," Melissa English, Cincinnati Area Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Jan 5, 2009: Plan for coke plant near Ohio school puts focus on laws' limits

Amanda Elementary
MIDDLETOWN -- "The students at Amanda Elementary School here already breathe what appears to be some of the most polluted air in the nation. Now, a plant that makes coke — the coal-based fuel that melts iron ore for steel mills — is scheduled to be built behind the school, just past the ball fields. 'I can't believe this is possible,' says Jena Manley, a college junior who attended the school and lives nearby. 'How much pollution are we supposed to take?' Middletown, a steel town of 51,000, is struggling to survive. The new $340 million coke plant, run by SunCoke Energy, will bring 75 jobs and help secure the future of a steel mill that has operated here for 108 years. The coke plant, fought by local activists since it was announced in March, illustrates how the proximity of schools to factories seldom is considered when authorities grant operating permits for new or expanding industrial plants," Dennis Cauchon, USA Today, Published December 30.

Older news

2003: Jan - Jun, Jul - Dec

AK Steel

As of Jul 12, 2004. . .

6,219 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions urging AK Steel CEO James Wainscott to stop PCBs from leaking into Dick's Creek and clean up past contamination.

3,748 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions urging AK Steel CEO James Wainscott to build a fence immediately around Dick's Creek to keep kids safe.

4,967 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions pressing Middletown's Mayor and City Manager to get a safety fence built around Dick's Creek immediately.

24,988 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions urging AK Steel executives and board to cut the pollution pouring out of the Middletown plant