PITTSBURGH - Despite its ranking as the
state's top polluter, AK Steel Co. has been lauded by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency for reducing water pollution at its
The plant, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, ranked third among
the nation's biggest water polluters in 2001, down from the
country's worst in 2000, according to a recently released EPA
By changing the way it cleans steel, the plant had a 72.9 percent
reduction in the amount of chemicals discharged into the
Connoquenessing Creek from 2000 to 2001. The discharges are
"This is a major improvement, and they did this by changing the
way they clean the steel," said Bill Reilly, the EPA's toxic release
Myron Arnowitt, western Pennsylvania director of Clean Water
Action, which pushed AK Steel and federal regulators for changes,
called the company's efforts "a great solution."
Middletown, Ohio-based AK Steel bought the plant in 1999 and
spent $25 million to convert to a different steel-cleaning system,
said spokesman Alan McCoy.
McCoy said the changes put the company at a competitive
disadvantage. He said there was no scientific evidence linking
nitrates, which had been used in the old cleaning process, to health
or environmental problems.
High levels of nitrates can cause serious illness and even death,