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
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.