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AK's coke plans to be reviewed

By Thomas Gnau

Journal Business Writer

E-mail: tgnau@coxohio.com

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency draft permit to let AK Steel Corp. build a backup coke quench station is ready for your inspection.

A public hearing at 7 p.m. July 18 at Middletown High School will give citizens a chance to explore the idea.

An OEPA draft air permit proposes letting AK build the system at 1801 Crawford Road, at the company's Middletown Works. The system would cool hot coke from an oven when the plant's main quench tower is out of service, an OEPA statement said.

"It's only a backing system," OEPA spokesman Andy Thompson said Monday of the proposed tower. "It's going to be permitted to be used only in emergency situations." It could also be used when the primary quench system is being maintained, he said.

Coke is one of the primary ingredients in making steel. The coke plant makes fuel for the blast furnace, which makes molten iron. Molten iron becomes molten steel at the basic oxygen furnace. From there, steel is shaped and finished.

When water is applied to hot coke, steam results -- steam with "particulate matter," like dust or small particles, Thompson said.

Emissions from the proposed tower are expected to be 180 pounds an hour of particulate matter, Thompson said. That amount does not include steam, he said.

He said AK has volunteered to limit emissions at the proposed quench station to 24.7 tons of particulate matter a year.

"There are other sources in Ohio that emit far more particulate matter per year," Thompson said.

The proposed tower can treat 112 tons of coke per hour in normal operating conditions, he said.

AK would have to start construction of the facility within 18 months after a permit is issued, or the company must make a "good faith effort" to start construction, he said.

The public hearing will have two parts. The first will be an information session, when OEPA officials will answer questions, Thompson said. That will last as long as there are questions, he said.

Then there will be time for comments. "Relevant" comments will get a written response mailed to those who sign up at the meeting or who are on the OEPA's mailing list, Thompson said.

AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

The high school is at 601 N. Breiel Blvd.

To review the draft permit, call Brad Miller at (937) 946-7777.

 



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