State not about to walk away from fines against
AKBy Thomas Gnau
Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery said Thursday her
tried "desperately" to work with AK Steel Corp. to resolve
a decade of
environmental complaints about the company.
To no avail, she said.
"A lot of aggressive positions are being taken, probably on
Montgomery said in a meeting with The Journal's editorial
AK Vice President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy says AK has
a right to
aggressively defend itself.
On behalf of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency,
Montgomery's office0oined a federal lawsuit against
the Middletown steelmaker filed in June
2000 in Cincinnati's U.S. District Court. Montgomery said
her office cannot
walk away from the suit without fines against AK.
The stance confirms the view of AK's principals that
Montgomery's office is
more interested in fines than resolution, McCoy said.
000200000615000003CE60F,When AK's attorneys have asked why,
are "unable to articulate a reason," he said.
AK has said the government wants punitive fines; company
leaders have also
said fines and environmental compliance costs may force
them to look at
whether they can afford to make steel in Middletown, where
steel has been
made for more than a century. AK has about 4,000 employees
more than 11,000 in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
"One person's punitive fine is another person's legitimate
But determining how fines are paid, she added, is "open to
Montgomery said it's possible to end the suit in a way that
lets AK continue
making steel in Ohio.
The suit was in part a response to complaints dating back
to 1991 about "dust
and debris" drifting from the Middletown Works, Montgomery
said. She said8er office reached a point where it
could not "in good conscience not file
When her office told the U.S. Justice Department that a
lawsuit was imminent,
Montgomery said, federal officials said: "Wait. Let us take
The federal government is the lead agency in the lawsuit,
she said. While the
state can settle separately in the lawsuit, the federal
continue with its own suit, she said.
Montgomery was elected in 1994, the same year AK went
public from a five-year
partnership between part of Armco and Kawasaki Steel Corp.
Two years ago, AK
bought Armco. The company has reported a net loss of $16
million as of Sept.
30 this year.