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AK Steel has turn to shine
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} From the May 11, 2001 print edition

AK Steel has turn to shine

A group called Ohio Citizen Action is trying to set up a meeting between Middletown residents and AK Steel Chief Executive Officer Richard Wardrop to discuss concerns about pollution from the local steel mill.

Residents have complained of a soot or powdery residue that coats cars and homes, as well as an acrid odor sometimes accompanied by a burning sensation in their eyes.

The steelmaker already has left a bad taste in the mouths of Zelienople, Pa., residents.

Last June, the EPA ordered AK to reduce the nitrate pollution in one of the town's backup drinking water sources. The company finally agreed, but only after fighting the order for nearly a year.

Regardless of whether the pollution is within acceptable limits now, some Zeleinoplians now see AK as a poor corporate citizen because of how long it took the company to make a change.

"We think this company has been not just unresponsive, but irresponsible in their actions toward this community," said Suzanne Forrester, drinking water project coordinator for the Pittsburgh office of Clean Water Action.

AK Steel has little to lose and much to gain simply by not putting off the concerns of Middletown residents.

Whatever its assessment of the true hazard of the discharge from its plants, the company owes it to the citizens to hear them out.

AK puts considerable effort into its public image. It pours millions of dollars back into the community through its philanthropic foundation. It airs radio commercials about how much it values its employees. It even allies itself with the all-American sport of baseball through a promotion with the Cincinnati Reds.

The steelmaker has another chance to score some points with its neighbors by agreeing to this meeting.

It should take it.

Get Copyright Clearance Copyright 2001 American City Business Journals Inc.
Click for permission to reprint (PRC# 1.1642.430629)

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