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Activists target AK in video

By Thomas Gnau, Journal Business Writer, E-mail: tgnau@coxohio.com

Ohio environmental activists are again spotlighting AK Steel Corp. and the pollution they claim the company produces — this time with a documentary video.

A 31-minute videotape titled “AK Come Clean” shows several activists and Middletown residents sharing their concerns about what they say is air pollution in the city’s Oneida area, near AK’s Middletown Works, and pollution in Dicks Creek, which flows past several businesses.

This kind of attention is nothing new for AK. Last year, in a publication titled “Leaving Our Communities at Risk,” the Sierra Club profiled Middletown residents who live or lived near Middletown Works.

Rachael Belz, of Ohio Citizen Action, said Tuesday there’s a purpose behind the attention.

“We felt that there were so many stories we were hearing, stories that needed to be told,” Belz said.

Asked if the strategy was drawing national attention to AK and Middletown, where AK is based, Belz said: “I think it’s starting to. I think it’s just starting.”

The video shows activists and at least two residents trying to deliver samples of what they said was pollution to AK’s annual shareholder meeting in Wilmington, Del., last year.

While Belz said some were able to attend a open portion of the meeting, the video shows a security guard blocking the visitors from bringing jars and plastic bags into a hotel where the meeting was held.

The video opens with activists donning hazardous-material suits last August to take soil and water samples from Dicks Creek.

Also last summer, an AK spokesman said Marilyn Wall, of the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter, trespassed on AK property to collect samples.

Asked if activists have definitive results from any tests of those samples, Belz said Tuesday, “We’re getting there.”

Belz said “a lab in Canada” is working to “fingerprint” samples in a way that will identify the source of any pollution. She said she hoped to have more information in coming weeks.

The U.S. and Ohio environmental protection agencies are suing AK in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati for alleged violations of environmental laws. The suit may go to trial late this year or early in 2004, if a court scheduling order drafted earlier this year is any indication.

AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy declined to comment, saying he has not seen the video.

Published 03.26.04

 

   


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