test creek for waste
They hope to
By Steve Eder, email@example.com
MIDDLETOWN - Ray Agee, 61, remembers summer days before
Dicks Creek became a blackened stream, polluted with waste,
runoff and cancer-causing chemicals.
Growing up in Middletown, he
learned to swim in the 6-mile ravine that runs through this
community of 55,000 residents.
But by the time his four
children could tread water, it was considered dangerous to get
into the mucky stream.
Today, his 11 grandchildren
aren't allowed to visit for fear that the stream could harm
them. Community and corporate leaders acknowledge that
dangerous pollutants exist along portions of the waterway.
I'm worried about everyone
living in Middletown, especially the kids and the elderly,
Mr. Agee said, surrounded by 20 environmental activists and
Middletown residents Saturday. Armed with giant yellow boots,
chemical-resistant gloves and measuring equipment, a handful
of Ohio Sierra Club members set out for the creek to collect
pitchers of water for testing.
But before taking to the water,
the gatherers were quick to point a guilty finger at AK Steel,
a steel manufacturer headquartered in Middletown, with more
than 11,000 employees. The company, has produced steel along
the waterway for the past hundred years.
Al McCoy, a spokesman for AK
Steel, said the company hasn't done anything wrong.
AK Steel has, we believe, the
best environmental record in not only the state of Ohio, but
the U.S. steel industry by a wide margin, Mr. McCoy said.
And we are continuing to vigorously defend against
allegations made by the agencies.
He added said there are
numerous businesses that could have polluted the creek.
Saturday's activities were in
response to what Sierra Club members and local residents
characterize as a sluggish response from federal and state
environmental protection agencies, both of which are in
litigation with AK Steel for environmental violations.
We've made it pretty clear
that we are not going to litigate in the press, said Kara
Allison, a spokesperson for Ohio EPA.
Members of the Sierra Club say
it is necessary to pursue polluters in order to get the
financial support for the cleanup bills.
The accountability issue is a
big one, said mission organizer Susan Knight before heading
into the creek. Who pays for these mistakes?
Particular dangers persist near
Amanda Elementary School off Oxford State Road. Schoolchildren
play on football and baseball fields just yards from the
stream. One nearby sign notifies children of the dangers of
approaching the stream.
There should be something put
up so the kids can't get down there, said James Cottle, 60,
who has lived with his wife in Middletown for 28 years.
They will run toward the woods
and get there quickly with no problem.
Middletown resident Rob Erhart,
36, and his daughter, Tara, 7, were among those taking samples
of the water.
Tara said she hoped to find
fish and her father added, we hope.
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