Ohio EPA's stance has changed
July 28, 2003
To the editor:
AK Steel has worked for years to resolve issues with
the Ohio EPA and even offered to install new environmental controls ahead
of government deadlines. The agency rejected the environmental benefit
those controls would have made by continuing to insist on civil penalties.
Civil penalties for what? The unintended and unforeseen result of our
predecessor's lawful operations near Dicks Creek decades ago?
So where was the environmental outrage and the demand for penalties by
the Ohio EPA after heavy rains pushed 3 million gallons of uranium-tainted
Fernald processing water into the Great Miami earlier this month? Apparently
the government's unintended and unforeseen consequences warrant special
Here's a question to ponder: If the Ohio EPA is found to have violated
procedures, such as manipulating sediment sample data in Dicks Creek to
the detriment of the company, shouldn't the Ohio EPA pay millions in civil
penalties to AK Steel?
Recently this paper printed a letter from Ohio EPA director Chris Jones
saying that settlement with AK Steel is 'impossible' unless AK Steel acquiesces
to penalties. The Ohio EPA's official stance was quite different in the
face of stinging criticism from Ohio Citizen Action and the Sierra Club
about lax enforcement and lack of fines against companies a few years
ago. At that time an Ohio EPA spokesperson indicated that the agency didn't
see a problem in working with companies to bring about compliance instead
of imposing fines and penalties.
Now Ohio EPA feels compelled to assess fines against AK Steel. How ironic
if such a stance placates Ohio Citizen Action and the Sierra Club, but
stands in the way of actual environmental benefits.
Alan H. McCoy, Vice President, Public Affairs