Although it is touted as a
state-of-the-art facility, AK Steel still tops Indiana's list
of toxic polluters, and Spencer County, where the manufacturer
operates, also tops the list of Indiana counties with the most
"AK Steel has built this state-of-the-art facility and what
we get is apparently the state of polluting in Indiana," said
John Blair of local environmental group Valley Watch, noting
that the company received millions in tax breaks.
A company official could not be reached to comment about
the information, included in Indiana's release of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's most recent Toxic Release
Inventory report. The report is based on the 2001 emissions of
various pollutants as reported by companies.
Four counties in the Evansville area are listed in the
state's top 10 counties for toxic pollution. They are Spencer
County, 1; Gibson County, 3; Warrick County, 4; and Pike
Spencer, ranked second in toxic pollution in 2000, knocked
Lake County from No. 1 on the list.
In addition to AK Steel, other local industries among the
top 10 toxic polluters for 2001, according to the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management, are Cinergy's Gibson
Generating Station and Alcoa generating station in Warrick
County. Eight of those top 10 polluters are coal-burning power
Only one of the 10 companies with the most pollution
reductions - Indianapolis Power & Light generating
station, near Petersburg, Ind. - is in Southwest Indiana.
"We live in this hole of pollution," Blair said. "How much
evidence does it take?"
He said the latest report gives further support to his
contention that the counties in the Evansville area should not
be declared in attainment of stricter new federal air quality
Despite Southwest Indiana's poor showing in the latest
pollution rankings, overall Indiana industries reduced the
amount of toxins released into air, water and land by more
than 9 percent, according to IDEM. Businesses in Indiana
released 128.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2001, down
from 141.6 million pounds in 2000. The decline comes despite
the addition of 35 more businesses now required to report
their toxic releases and the EPA's stricter reporting
requirements for the toxin lead. The release of cancer-causing
chemicals was reduced 12 percent statewide in 2001. Indiana
maintained its ranking of eighth in the country for overall
toxic chemical releases.