AK ‘puzzled’ by site’s spot on EPA listBy Thomas Gnau,
Journal Business Writer, E-mail: email@example.com
AK Steel Corp. has never used the former Armco Inc. plant in New
But cleaning up the site could cost the Middletown-based
steelmaker millions, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency engineer
“Under the law, they (AK) are responsible for any contamination
that might be present,” said Pablo Valentin, a remedial project
manager at the EPA’s Region 5 headquarters in Chicago. Region 5
AK and the agency already have discussed the 120-acre site, 401
Augspurger Road, that AK has owned since 1994, AK Vice President of
Public Affairs Alan McCoy said.
That’s one reason McCoy called the federal agency’s proposal to
add the site to its national Superfund priority list of hazardous
waste locations “puzzling, frankly.
“We’re surprised by that announcement, and the reason we’re
surprised is that we’ve already entered into an agreement with the
EPA to investigate the site and present a cleanup plan,” McCoy said.
Valentin said AK has cooperated and has given the agency a draft
cleanup plan, which the agency is reviewing.
But based on what the agency knows today, Valentin said, it is
likely the site will end up on the Superfund list. Placement there
makes the site eligible for federal funds should AK not be able in
the future to pay for its cleanup — and ensures that AK continues to
cooperate with the EPA, he said.
AK’s immediate corporate predecessor, Armco Steel Co. L.P.
(Limited Partnership), which existed from 1989 to 1994, used the
site briefly, McCoy said. It was shut down for good in 1990 or 1991,
“There’s nothing left there,” McCoy said.
But the EPA said in a statement this week that something is there
— contamination of “metals, hydrocarbons, PCBs and other chemicals.”
The site is a half-mile from municipal water wells, the agency
said. Asked if the area is a threat to drinking water, Valentin
said: “At this moment, we don’t know. That’s why we’re doing the
A “waste lagoon” and landfill in the area aren’t lined and have
no system for collecting seeping water, the agency said. And
contaminated sediment has been found in a stream that drains to the
Great Miami River, it also said.
Placing the site on the Superfund program list gives the EPA
authority to seek cleanup costs from entities the agency identifies
as polluters. McCoy was unsure what impact that would have on AK.
“It’s an excellent question for the EPA,” he said.
A “typical” cleanup cost for Superfund sites is $10 million,
Valentin said. But he added that he has seen cleanups performed for
as little as $2 million.
The proposed listing was published in the Federal Register on
Wednesday. Publication triggers a 60-day public comment period on
McCoy said Armco leased, then bought, the New Miami plant from a
Columbus firm in the 1930s. The plant made coke and iron from 1937
to 1991, the EPA said.
“It was an ancient, small, little plant,” McCoy said.
To learn more about the site, or to comment, call EPA community
involvement coordinator Zenny Sadlon at (312) 886-6682, Valentin