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Hearing set on change in AK discharge permit

By Thomas Gnau

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is inviting residents to comment on a proposal that would alter a permit governing copper and zinc discharged in wastewater from AK Steel Corp.’s Middletown Works.

AK is seeking to change its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, the agency said.

A public hearing on the issue is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at Middletown High School, 601 N. Breiel Blvd.

The change would not exceed standards that protect human and aquatic health, the agency said. But the modification is described in an agency advisory as one that would “result in a change from current water quality conditions in Dicks Creek” and the creek’s north branch.

AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy said he disagrees with that description; he said the amount of copper and zinc discharged from the company’s Middletown plant won’t rise.

“We have no plans to increase the amount of copper and zinc in our discharge,” McCoy said.

An Ohio EPA spokeswoman, Kara Allison, said Tuesday she would try to get a response from the agency’s technical staff. Later in the day, she said was not able to get in touch with those staff members.

The permit in question governs both concentration of chemicals and how much water comes out of several Middletown Works pipes.

“From a compliance standpoint, we have two variables to watch,” McCoy said.

AK wants the state to measure at a flow rate that “more reasonably” reflects normal operating conditions, he said. If the flow measured is too little, the concentration of zinc and copper may be too high, leaving the company potentially out of compliance.

The company also must be mindful of how much wastewater is discharged.

Agency representatives will hear comments at the hearing and will accept written comments until the close of business Aug. 13. Written comments may be sent to: Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, Attn: Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.



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