Living downstream from AK Steel
Dick's Creek runs to the south of AK Steel
INSET: The aerial photo of Dick's Creek, below,
shows outfalls and groundwater seeps.
42 photos of Dick's Creek
The Ohio EPA and the Middletown Department of Health have posted these warning
signs along the creek. Dick's Creek is one of only five waterways in Ohio
deemed unsafe for any of these activities.
For over 15 years, citizens, specialists, reporters and
industry have been monitoring specific points along Dick's Creek for contamination,
taking tests and samples
of the water, sediment, and aquatic life. Much of this evidence points
to Middletown's AK Steel as the primary polluter of the creek. AK Steel
has received permits under the Clean Water Act, allowing them to legally
dump certain amounts of pollutants into points along Dick's Creek, which
are called "outfalls."
Though AK Steel's current operations do not result in the production of PCBs, PCBs have apparently leaked out into the creek as a result of dumping done by AK Steel in the past. PCBs do not break down in the environment, and have moved on into the fillets and tissue of fish and the sediment of the creek. Samples of fish and sediment from 1997, 2000, and 2002 show a consistent presence of PCBs. In August 2002, the Sierra Club sent water samples from Dick's Creek to a lab specializing in PCBs. The test results, released in May, 2003, showed dangerously high levels of PCBs in the creek. These tests prompted the Ohio EPA to conduct further testing that "fingerprinted" many of these PCBs, proving they came from AK Steel. Experts warn that PCBs will keep seeping into the creek if AK Steel does not have a proper treatment process. In other cases of this magnitude, dredging the sediment has been the most useful solution. The U.S. EPA sued AK Steel in June 2000 over their violations of the Clean Water Act, citing numerous spills and fish kills in Dick’s Creek. The Ohio EPA, Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council have also joined in this enforcement case. This lawsuit is pending.
At the urging of the community, AK Steel built a fence behind Amanda Elementary in April 2004 to restrict access to Dick's Creek.
|Please take a moment to e-mail AK Steel CEO James
Urge him to clean up the pollution in Dick's Creek, and truly be a good neighbor.