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Posted on Fri, Aug. 09, 2002
Opponents say AK Steel permit change would jeopardize water quality

Environmental activists who oppose AK Steel's request to change a wastewater discharge permit say the change would further jeopardize the water quality of a stream that runs past an AK Steel plant.

About 15 opponents of the proposed permit change - which would increase the limit of copper and zinc AK Steel is allowed to release along Dicks Creek - attended an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public hearing Thursday to argue against the proposal.

Opponents said any additional discharge would cause further deterioration in the water quality of the 6-mile stream.

"AK Steel is a known violator of the environment, water and air," said Edgar Hull, of Salem. "I don't see any rationale for giving them a permit. They already make a mess here in Middletown. They should clean that mess up."

The Middletown-based company maintains that its environmental record is the best in the steel industry.

AK Steel spokesman Alan McCoy has said the company has no intention of increasing its zinc and copper discharges.

He said the proposal is meant to include a "more realistic measurement" of the company's chemical concentration and water flow. Existing calculations do not reflect normal operating conditions, McCoy said.

EPA officials said discharges under the proposed permit would not exceed water quality standards. The agency is accepting public comment until Aug. 13 but has not set a deadline for a making its decision.

A group of about 20 residents and activists recently gathered water samples, which they said would prove that AK Steel is the chief polluter of Dicks Creek. The samples were sent to a laboratory, but test results are not yet available.

Middletown is about 25 miles north of Cincinnati.

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