Hearing set for AK Steel

March 4, 2003

Thomas Gnau
Middletown Journal

AK Steel Corp. wants to renew a permit on disposing wastewater from its Middletown Works, but with a new element, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency: The company wants to discharge water treated for PCBs to Dicks Creek.

The water, used to quench hot slag, now goes to a sump, or receptacle, said Mary Osika, a surface water specialist with the agency's Dayton office.

"It's a proposed discharge from a PCB-treatment system to Dicks Creek," Osika said.

A public hearing on AK's application to renew the permit will be held at Middletown High School's cafeteria at 7 p.m. April 16, the agency said.

Osika on Monday said it is too soon to say what levels of PCBs, if any, would be in water proposed to be discharged to the creek's north branch. The water would be treated for PCBs first, she said.

Though the agency says in a public notice that the proposed discharges, if approved, would "result in degradation to, or lowering of, the water quality of Dicks Creek and subsequently the Great Miami River," neither Osika nor agency spokeswoman Heather Lauer could answer questions about the precise impact.

"There would be an impact," Osika said.

Osika and Lauer said it is too soon to say whether an impact would affect human or aquatic life. However, nothing that exceeded criteria meant to protect people and aquatic life would be approved, the two stressed.

Exposure to PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls - has been associated with skin conditions in adults and immunological changes in children.

State and federal environmental protection agencies are suing AK in U.S. District Court for alleged violation of environmental laws, including surface water regulations. AK has denied the allegations.

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