10,415 people wrote letters to Richard Wardrop, AK Steel CEO, urging him to reduce the amount of pollution AK Steel is releasing. The campaign has expanded to include letter writing to the board of directors, a majority of whom do not live in our region.

The largest volunteer action day to date on the campaign was a Gutter Cleaning Day held May 4, 2002 in Middletown. Ninety-four volunteers helped to clean twenty residential gutters of debris including metal flakes, coal dust and particles from AK Steel. A portion of the dust and soot collected was sent to independent labs for testing. Over 150 pounds of the pollution collected was taken to the 2002 AK Steel shareholders meeting held May 14, 2002. The pollution couldn’t pass metal detectors.
A neighbors group, United Neighbors Against Dirty Air (UNADA), was formed in Middletown in July, 2001. The campaign coalition members have been working with and supporting efforts of neighbors and workers of AK Steel, including UNADA, throughout the duration of the campaign.
Coalition expansion has been key to the progress made. Ohio Citizen Action is not working alone. The Sierra Club (national and local), ECO: Environmental Community Organization; UNADA; Rivers Unlimited and many other individuals and groups are working together publicly and privately to urge AK Steel to be a good neighbor in Middletown.
Nine campaign members and AK Steel Middletown neighbors attended the 2002 Shareholders meeting in Wilmington, Delaware on May 14, 2002. All members were shareholders or sent by shareholders to attend the meeting. Neighbors and coalition members addressed Richard Wardrop, AK Steel CEO, about the air and water pollution in Middletown and urged open lines of communication between AK Steel decision-makers, workers and neighbors.
The AK Steel Good Neighbor campaign continues to receive plenty of media coverage: Middletown Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post, Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Business Courier, Dayton Business Journal, Channels 5 and 9 in Cincinnati, Channel 2 in Dayton and NPR - WNKU in Northern Kentucky. We have documented over 50 media stories since the start of the campaign.

Prior to the campaign, neighbors were not aware that 8,017,220 pounds of metal flakes, dust, soot and particles falls on them annually; although most neighbors said that it “seemed like the problem was getting worse each year.” The campaign has exposed a special EPA exemption that allowed AK Steel to emit and increase without consequence the amount of air pollution they release - as damaging to neighbors’ and workers’ health and quality of life. It was revoked by the Ohio EPA in October 2001, but AK Steel continues to fight to keep the exemption. The campaign also documented 205 Clean Water Act violations at AK Steel in Middletown since 1988.

The Sierra Club hosted the first volunteer Water Monitoring Day in Middletown on August 4, 2002. Ohio Citizen Action was a co-sponsor of the day. Contaminated and relatively uncontaminated portions of Dick’s Creek (which runs right through AK Steel’s property) were tested for PCBs, dissolved oxygen and other water quality tests. We are awaiting the results of this testing.
ECO: Environmental Community Organization has led the charge on collecting dust and fallout in neighborhoods around the plant since the beginning of summer, 2002. The samples are compared and part of the dust collected has been sent to independent labs for testing.
Many people have given us extra information about AK Steel, have volunteered their talents, or simply became more involved. We understand that everyone does not fit into this category, but we are thankful for those of you who do. Examples of involvement include: being interviewed by reporters and quoted in newspaper article; giving inside information about the problems at the Middletown plant; volunteering as chemists, teachers, photographers; and helping spread the word about the campaign.

Graphics by Aaron Koonce.
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