Shelly asphalt campaign update:

Westerville neighbors are celebrating their first amazing victory.

Odor-free clean air has a chance in Westerville
once again.

Simona Vaclavikova, Columbus Area Program Director
Ohio Citizen Action

January 14, 2005

VictoryHow do you persuade two large asphalt companies to take an interest in what their neighbors have to say? How do you convince them to make changes?

It all started in April 2004 when a group of Westerville, Blendon Township, and Columbus neighbors met with the representatives of Ohio Citizen Action, the state's largest environmental organization.

The problem was evident: two asphalt plants, Shelly and Kokosing, producing asphalt at a combined rate of about 800 tons per hour, caused offensive odors, air and water pollution, dust, and noise. It was a no-brainer that two asphalt plants, notorious for their non-compliance with air and water regulations, were putting an unfair burden on the surrounding community.

Ohio Citizen Action's good neighbor campaigns are designed to bring the company and the community together to start a dialogue and resolve environmental problems. If the companies do not take this approach seriously, public pressure and intensive campaign will be heading their way.

In Westerville, Ohio Citizen Action worked side by side with neighbors who formed Citizens for Clean Air to put pressure on Shelly Materials in several ways:

  • Collecting and delivering 17,000 personal letters from Ohio Citizen Action members to Shelly's management, asking Shelly to work with the neighbors and fix their environmental problems.
  • Phoning Shelly's headquarters in Washington, DC, and the headquarters of their parent company in Dublin, Ireland, demanding accountability for Westerville plant.
  • Filing 30 verified complaints with the Ohio EPA, asking for immediate investigation.
  • Documenting malfunctions, taking videos and photographs of problems occurring on site, keeping odor logs, taking air and dust samples.
  • Receiving great media coverage.
  • Involving Westerville City Council and the U. S. EPA, which is currently investigating asphalt plants in Ohio, including Shelly and Kokosing.
Less than a year into the campaign, two asphalt companies -- otherwise fierce competitors -- have found a way to address these community problems together. Shelly is moving their asphalt plant out of Westerville and will buy asphalt from Kokosing for a reasonable price if they need it for their future contracts in the area.

This proposal is simple, reasonable, and reflects community's interest in reducing the odors and pollution as much as possible. The community can much easily keep an eye on one plant and make sure it is running in accordance with the latest environmental standards and with the latest control equipment. . As for the Shelly relocation plan and other Shelly plants locations in Ohio, Ohio Citizen Action is prepared to work with the company and assist them in becoming a good neighbor in other parts of the state.

We would like to thank everyone who got involved in this campaign, wrote a letter, made a phone call, or attended our many community meetings.

Citizens for Clean Air is stronger than ever. The group will continue to work with Kokosing asphalt plant and is prepared to tackle other environmental issues in Westerville. If you'd like to get involved with the local group, or if you have any questions about Shelly plant locations elsewhere, please, contact Simona Vaclavikova at (614) 263-4111.