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Beryllium deal makes sense for both sides
May 10, 2000
The agreement to keep Brush Wellman from making, storing or processing beryllium at its plant in Lorain protects the community while answering the company’s wish to avoid legislation that could be copied by others.

Now the members of Lorain City Council should make the vote unanimous. No threat is posed to other local industries and the deal is something the community clearly wants.

Some might worry, as we did early in this debate, that a ban set in city ordinances might send the wrong message – leaving an impression that Lorain is inhospitable to industry and unwilling to deal with the complexities of a manufacturing environment.

That conclusion won’t hold up, however, because it’s clear the city has worked cooperatively with Brush Wellman to seek a compromise.

The concern about beryllium in Lorain is no surprise. Given the special history of the product here, including an explosion that destroyed a predecessor company’s plant and cases of disease from the effects of beryllium dust, Lorain has a right to be concerned. Fresh attention was drawn to the company and the hazards by a recent series of articles in The Blade of Toledo about Brush Wellman facilities in Northwest Ohio.

Questions about Brush Wellman’s intentions for beryllium in Lorain were raised when the company first announced its interest in building the plant on the city’s west side to manufacture brush-engineered bronze. Company officials offered assurances then that they had no intention of handling beryllium in Lorain, but these were simply statements to the press and city officials.

The agreement before City Council puts it in writing and includes language binding both present and future owners of Brush Wellman.

Lorain has been very hospitable to Brush Wellman, giving the company a 10-year, 60 percent tax abatement on the $12 million plant built in 1997. The company’s willingness to make this compromise agreement indicates that Brush Wellman is likewise sensitive to the concerns of the people of Lorain.

©The Morning Journal 2000
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