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.