AK Steel news, 2002

Dec 10: Steel mill pollution linked to mutations in study mice

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Ecology scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said pairs of mice exposed for about 70 days to air pollution downwind from a steel mill produced young that carried up to twice the number of genetic mutations found in animals that lived in clean air. Christopher Somers and James Quinn, two of the co-authors of a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the new research supports earlier findings that suggested genetic mutations among seagulls exposed to steel mill air pollution. . . .Quinn said the mutations may be caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, known to be present in some stack gases coming from steel mills. Steel mills burn coal or other fuels to refine ore or rough metal into steel. He said the PAHs are known to cause mutations and can enter the body by attaching to small airborne particles that are inhaled," Paul Recer, Associated Press.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Air pollution induces heritable DNA mutations, Christopher M. Somers, Carole L. Yauk, Paul A. White, Craig L. J. Parfett, and James S. Quinn, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nov 17: Tougher air standards are coming

MIDDLETOWN -- "It's too soon to know how new rules might affect AK Steel Corp.'s Middletown Works, said Alan McCoy, AK's vice president of public affairs. AK is the largest employer in Middletown and Butler and Warren counties. 'There are no rules issued, no guidance at this point,' he said. But he also said that AK already has done much to reduce chemicals that cause ozone. And he said Middletown Works accounts for perhaps 'two-tenths of one percent' of the chemicals that lead to ozone locally. 'Cars and trucks are by far the largest single' contributor, he said. McCoy added: 'When the sale of barbecue grills and barbecue sauce are outlawed, we’ll have the Sierra Club to thank,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Oct 30: How healthy is Middletown?

Organization logos

MIDDLETOWN -- "Join us for a community talk about pollution and health. We have many questions to ask and stories to share," flyer, Environmental Community Organization, United Neighbors Against Dirty Air, Sierra Club, Ohio Citizen Action.

Oct 23: Charge doesn't change AK Steel rating

NEW YORK -- "Standard and Poor's said it will not revise its credit rating or outlook for AK Steel after the Middletown company said it would take a $500 million after-tax charge during the fourth quarter. AK Steel's credit remains at "BB," with a stable outlook, the ratings agency said. The $500 million noncash charge, for the company's pension fund liabilities, is the result of poorly performing equity markets but won't have an impact on AK Steel's financial covenants, Standard and Poor's said. 'Nevertheless, without improvement in the equity markets, AK will be required to make meaningful cash contributions in 2004 and beyond to fund its pension shortfall,' the firm wrote in a research note," Dayton Business Journal.

Oct 9: Ohio EPA's decision to allow more pollutants in waterways criticized

MIDDLETOWN -- "'I absolutely think there's hypocrisy at play here,' said Susan Knight, water project director for the Sierra Club in Cincinnati. 'AK Steel is not changing anything, and these permits are not going to help the situation.' Dicks Creek is already polluted with toxic metals and has been the scene of fish kills, Knight said," John Nolan, Associated Press.

Oct 8: Steelmaker to increase discharges

CLEVELAND -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said it will allow AK Steel to modify its wastewater discharge permit and increase discharges of certain elements from its Middletown facility. The company was granted two separate modifications, one which allows AK Steel to increase the amount of copper and zinc discharged from various points along the property," Dayton Business Journal.

Sep 20: Top 10 accomplishments of the AK-Steel good neighbor campaign

MIDDLETOWN -- "The largest volunteer action day to date on the campaign was a gutter cleaning day held May 4, 2002 in Middletown. Ninety-four volunteers helped to clean twenty residential gutters of debris including metal flakes, coal dust and particles from AK Steel. A portion of the dust and soot collected was sent to independent labs for testing. Over 150 pounds of the pollution collected was taken to the 2002 AK Steel shareholders meeting held May 14, 2002. The pollution couldn’t pass metal detectors," Ohio Citizen Action.
Graphics by Aaron Koonce.

Sep 13: Groups ask U.S. EPA to probe AK Steel

CINCINNATI -- "Members of the United Steelworkers of America and the Sierra Club went to U.S. EPA offices in Cincinnati to ask the agency to investigate what the groups called "potential public health and environmental risks" at the AK Steel-owned Superfund site, just outside of New Miami near Hamilton. The union and the environmental group say a review of Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA records performed by environmental consultant Bennett & Williams concluded that groundwater in the area around AK Steel's plant near Hamilton may be polluted and could contaminate well fields that lie within one-half-mile of the facilities," Roy Wood, Cincinnati Post.

Sep 12: Workers call on U.S. EPA

CINCINNATI -- "Officials with the United Steelworkers of America and members of the Sierra Club environmental group will host a press conference today to call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct more rigorous testing of a former AK Steel plant in Hamilton," Cincinnati Enquirer.

Sep 5: Wardrop says AK is back on track

MIDDLETOWN -- "[AK Chief Executive Officer Richard] Wardrop reminded listeners that 94.1 percent of AK shipments in the second quarter were pricier value-added products, a company record. AK reported net income of $16.2 million and record automotive market shipments of nearly a million tons in the second quarter. Operating profit, a key industry measure, was $46 per ton shipped, including net insurance settlements," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Aug 29: AK Steel throws big party

MIDDLETOWN -- "There are no plant tours this year — [Alan McCoy, AK’s vice president of public affairs] called them 'a monumental effort'. . . ," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Aug 26: AK awaits Ohio EPA response on Dicks Creek

MIDDLETOWN -- "Earlier this month, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency sent AK Steel Corp. a 'notice of violation' on what the agency said was a 'discoloration and solids deposition' in the creek. The red, or rust, color in the water was naturally occurring iron in well water fed to AK’s fire protection system, an AK spokesman said. When AK’s fire hydrants were flushed into the creek, the coloring came with it. 'It is a naturally occurring constituent of the well water,' AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy said. . . Mary Osika, an environmental specialist at the agency’s Division of Surface Water, sounded skeptical of the company’s explanation. 'You could say uranium is naturally occurring,' Osika said. 'It doesn’t mean it should be discharged' into the creek, she said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Images of Aug 3 Dick's Creek water sampling, coordinated by the Sierra Club, co-sponsored by Ohio Citizen Action and Environmental Community Organization.

Aug 23: AK Steel buys controlling stake in Cleveland steel facility

CLEVELAND -- "AK Steel purchased a 60 percent interest in a flat-rolled steel electrogalvinizing facility in Cleveland, formerly known as L-S Electro-Galvanizing Co. Financial terms were not disclosed. The remaining 40 percent interest will continue to be owned by International Steel Group. L-S Electro-Galvanizing has been a venture between the former LTV Corp. and Sumitomo Metal USW Corp. prior to ISG's acquisition of LTV in April. ISG will continue to operate the plant, now known as AK-ISG Steel Coating Co," Cincinnati Business Courier.

Aug 22: Pointed remarks aimed at tax refund bid

HAMILTON -- "A judge had pointed remarks Wednesday for an attorney arguing that AK Steel Corp.'s chief executive officer should not pay Middletown income tax for time spent working outside the city. 'They work through their office in Middletown,' Butler County Common Pleas Judge Matthew Crehan said of AK CEO Richard Wardrop and AK Chief Financial Officer James Wainscott. 'That’s where things happen.' Wednesday's hearing featured the first open court arguments in the case. Neither Wardrop nor Wainscott was in court. Wardrop, a resident of unincorporated Clearcreek Township, wants a $42,630 refund for 123 days working outside Middletown in 2000; Wainscott, of Loveland, wants $2,527 for 51 days spent outside the city that year," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Aug 9: Opponents say AK Steel permit change would jeopardize water quality

MIDDLETOWN -- "Environmental activists who oppose AK Steel's request to change a wastewater discharge permit say the change would further jeopardize the water quality of a stream that runs past an AK Steel plant. About 15 opponents of the proposed permit change - which would increase the limit of copper and zinc AK Steel is allowed to release along Dicks Creek - attended an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public hearing Thursday to argue against the proposal. "AK Steel is a known violator of the environment, water and air," said Edgar Hull, of Salem. "I don't see any rationale for giving them a permit. They already make a mess here in Middletown. They should clean that mess up,"", Associated Press.

Aug 5: Dicks Creek samples will provide polluters’ ‘fingerprints'

MIDDLETOWN -- "Ray Agee learned to swim in Dicks Creek. On Saturday — despite the nearly 100-degree temperatures — he donned protective gear and joined about 20 volunteers taking sediment and water samples to test for dangerous levels of pollutants. I’m in the creek for the people of Middletown, especially for the children,” the 61-year-old Agee said, pointing toward Amanda Elementary School. Only a field separates the school, which will house more than 500 children this fall, from Dicks Creek. Susan Knight from the Sierra Club in Cincinnati said she suspects the creek is full of PCBs, dangerous carcinogens. The samples taken Saturday will be sent to an environmental lab where they will provide a “fingerprint” of who is dumping the dangerous pollutants in Dicks Creek, she said. Knight said the No. 1 suspect is Middletown’s AK Steel," Sheri King, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN-- "Residents protest mucky water," Dayton Daily News.

MIDDLETOWN-- "Activists test creek for waste," Cincinnati Enquirer.

Jul 29: AK Steel Names New Director

Eugene RennaMIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel said Eugene (Gene) A. Renna has been elected to its board of directors, effective July 22, 2002. AK Steel also said its board of directors approved an increase to 10 in the number of directors of the company. Mr. Renna, 57, is a retired executive vice president and director of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Prior to the merger of Exxon and Mobil, Mr. Renna was president and chief operating officer of Mobil Corporation, and a member of Mobil's board of directors,'" release, AK Steel.

Jul 29: Hearing set on change in AK discharge permit

Middletown High School

MIDDLETOWN -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is inviting residents to comment on a proposal that would alter a permit governing copper and zinc discharged in wastewater from AK Steel Corp's Middletown Works. . . The change would not exceed standards that protect human and aquatic health, the agency said. But the modification is described in an agency advisory as one that would 'result in a change from current water quality conditions in Dicks Creek' and the creek’s north branch," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Drawing: Middletown High School, 601 N. Breiel Blvd., where the public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. August 8.

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel releases earnings report," Eric Robinette, Middletown Journal.

May 23: Gutter Fight
Environmentalists say steel company's discharges are hazardous

MIDDLETOWN -- "The Sierra Club and Ohio Citizen Action have started organizing residents for a campaign targeting pollution by AK Steel. The environmental groups recently sent reporters small plastic bags containing grit collected from the gutters on Ray Agee's house on Navaho Street. The sooty particulate matter isn't the typical stuff of storm gutters, according to Susan Knight, water project director for the Sierra Club. She says the waste contains byproducts of steel production, many of which are heavy metals. 'If you put a strong magnet on that bag, it'll pick it up,' she says. She's right. Alan McCoy, vice president of public affairs for AK Steel, says he hasn't seen what was collected from the gutters. Knight, Nancy Cottle and other activists and neighbors tried to share their collection, taking an estimated 150 pounds to the corporation's annual shareholder meeting in Delaware last week. But security personnel blocked their entry. 'We have published rules for entry and no one is allowed to take a bucket of dirt into our annual meeting,' McCoy says. Nancy Cottle says they were simply trying to return the company's property. 'It's their dirt,' she says. 'We're just returning their dirt to them,'" Maria Rogers, Cincinnati City Beat.

May 21: Allegheny Tech Up -3: Intl Paper, 4 Others Kept At Sell

NEW YORK -- "Prudential maintained its sell rating on five metals and paper companies that it said have generally higher debt levels and slower unit volume growth or declining volume trends in some operations. The firm reiterated its rating on International Paper Co. (IP), MeadWestvacoCorp. (MWV), Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM), AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) and U.S. Steel Corp. (X). At March 31, International Paper, MeadWestvaco, Newmont Mining and AK Steel had long-term debt of $12.42 billion, $4.71 billion, $1.74 billion and $1.32 billion, respectively. . . . Prudential said U.S. Steel and AK Steel 'suffer as the leading integrated steel makers with union contracts not in bankruptcy, as their competitors move to erase liabilities and recapitalize,'" Oster Dow Jones.

May 17: Corporate counterculture
Having their say

WILMINGTON, DE -- "AK Steel was targeted this week when environmental groups used its annual meeting Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., to draw attention to what they say is prolonged air pollution caused by the company's sprawling Middletown steel works. In a bit of street theater on the front steps of the Dupont Hotel, site of the annual meeting, activists branded AK Steel a 'corporate outlaw' before they attempted to 'return' 150 pounds of pollution they said had been deposited on homes near the plant. 'When the company refuses to meet with its neighbors, sometimes you have to come to them, and this is where we knew they would be on May 14,' said Rachael Belz of Cincinnati, director of the Southwest Ohio chapter of Ohio Citizen Action," Greg Paeth, Cincinnati Post.

May 15: Soot stopped at door of AK Steel meeting

WILMINGTON, DE -- "Middletown residents and environmentalists upset over emissions from AK Steel's mill questioned CEO Richard Wardrop Jr. at the company's annual meeting Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., but they didn't get to deliver the 150 pounds of soot they say was spewed from the plant. Ray Agee of United Neighbors Against Dirty Air said the bags of soot didn't clear metal detectors designed to screen those attending the meeting in a Wilmington hotel," Cincinnati Enquirer.

WILMINGTON, DE -- "Local residents protest AK air pollution," Middletown Journal.

WILMINGTON, DE -- "AK shareholders told safety above par at annual meeting," Ted Pollard, Middletown Journal.

May 14: Citizens return pollution to CEO, board of AK Steel at shareholders meeting in Delaware

MIDDLETOWN -- "Neighbors of AK Steel in Middletown, Ohio, and environmental advocates traveled to Wilmington, Delaware from Middletown, Ohio today to deliver 150 pounds of particulate pollution to Richard Wardrop, AK Steel CEO at the AK Steel Annual Shareholders meeting. . . When tested in February, particulate samples were shown to contain lead, manganese, arsenic, mercury, zinc, strontium and other chemicals. 'It gets on everything,' Ray Agee, AK Steel neighbor and former worker, said. 'You can't sit outside and drink a cup of coffee without metal flakes landing in your cup,' Agee said," release, Rachael Belz, Ohio Citizen Action, Ray Agee, United Neighbors Against Dirty Air (UNADA).

May 7: Now on-line: Photos from Saturday's gutter-cleaning in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN -- On May 4, AK Steel's neighbors in Middletown and dozens of volunteers cleaned roof-gutters of particulate pollution raining down on the community. Photos from the day are now on-line, Ohio Citizen Action.

Mar 5: AK Steel stock sinks after Bush move

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Shares in AK Steel stock dropped 17 cents Tuesday after President Bush unveiled a three-year tariff policy of 30 percent on most imported steel. The industry had been asking for a 40 percent, four-year tariff," Dayton Business Journal.

Feb 15: Group soliciting financial help in area to fight alleged pollution by AK Steel

MIDDLETOWN -- "Canvassers encourage residents to write AK Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Wardrop Jr. As of Feb. 1, Wardrop has received 7,621 letters, [Citizen Action's southwest Ohio director Rachael] Belz said. [Alan McCoy, AK's vice president of public affairs] said he didn't know if that figure is right. 'Let's calculate how many trees were destroyed' for those letters, McCoy said. He said it 'doesn't matter how many letters they eventually pay to get sent here,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Jan 17: AK brass seek tax refund

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Wardrop Jr. wants a tax refund from Middletown government. . . . Wardrop, a resident of Clearcreek Township in Warren County, seeks a refund of $42,630 for 123 days worked outside the city in 2000, McDonnell said, and documents show. According to the city's case file, provided to The Journal by the law office, Wardrop's 2000 city income tax resulted in Middletown withholding $79,714. In a statement calculating time worked outside the city, he put "total city wages" at $5,314,282 that year, with $2,472,296 set as "wages earned in city." . . . Asked if Wardrop and [AK's chief financial officer, James] Wainscott pay local income taxes in other cities, [AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan] McCoy said that is 'considered to be a private individual tax matter at this time,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Jan 12: Group alleges AK polluting homes

CINCINNATI -- "Soot collected from Oneida-area homes near AK Steel's coke plant 'show the presence of heavy metal contamination,' an environmental group said Friday. The compounds found include arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, zinc strontium and others, an Ohio Citizen Action press release said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Jan 11: Soot collected from homes neighboring AK Steel contains toxic heavy metals

CINCINNATI -- "'If lead is coming down in the form of a small particulate and getting onto cooking utensils and food preparation surfaces, this could cause elevated blood lead levels,' Bill Menrath said. Menrath is the Chair of the Cincinnati Area Lead Advisory Committee. Chronic, low-level lead exposure can cause reduced IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss, insomnia, and a range of other health, intellectual, and behavioral effects," release, Ohio Citizen Action, ECO: Environmental Community Organization.

Jan 7: Environmentalists ask to join lawsuit

CINCINNATI -- "The Sierra Club and the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council asked U.S. District Judge Herman Weber to let them join the federal government and the state in suing for alleged pollution violations at the company's Middletown Works. . . . Cincinnati attorney Paul Casper Jr., representing AK Steel, argued that the groups should not be allowed to intervene as plaintiffs because they waited more than a year and a half before seeking to lend their weight to the case. 'They saw AK Steel not roll over and play dead but defend this case vigorously,' Casper said. . . . 'We will have serious discovery disputes if the Sierra Club and the NRDC are allowed in this case,' Casper said," Terry Kinney, Associated Press.
Photo: 'The much-maligned high school has been scrubbed clean, but another type of damage might be more difficult to fix. Pirates Pride Club founder Brent Parkerset said he can't give away clothes designed to boost morale.'