Amy Ryder, Cleveland Program Director, letter to Gordon Harnett, Brush Chairman and CEO



September 17, 2002

Gordon Harnett, Chairman, CEO
Brush Engineered Materials, Inc.
17876 St. Clair Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44110

Dear Mr. Harnett:

I am writing to let you know that Ohio Citizen Action has completed its good-neighbor campaign with respect to Brush Wellman’s Elmore plant. We are satisfied that your company has taken significant steps at the facility to make it much safer for employees and neighbors.

These include the following:

  • Closing the pure beryllium part of the Elmore facility, reducing total beryllium air emissions from the plant by 77%.
  • Instituting stricter procedure for workers leaving the plant at the end of a shift by requiring workers to go through a decontamination process, including the use of air showers and separate locker rooms for storing work and street clothing.
  • Requiring all production employees to wear respirators.
  • Creating transition zones within the plant to prevent cross-contamination of beryllium within the different parts of the facility.

I recently received a report from Peter Kowalski, Environmental Health Scientist from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, on his August inspection of the Elmore facility.

Mr. Kowalski gave a positive report, noting especially a clear distinction in the locker rooms between clean and contaminated areas; exhaust hoods above hampers in the contaminated areas; every worker in an area that was in a "respirator required" area was wearing a respirator; there were clearly defined areas of where respirators were and were not required and what was not; transition zones have effective air showers, sticky mats, and boot washes; every worker is responsible for maintaining a clean work area; and that there are five industrial hygienists on site, and for a plant this size, more than acceptable for a plant this size. He did note, however, that there is still room for improvement in the transition zones, primarily because the facility was not built with modern hygiene practices.

In addition, on April 24, Ohio Citizen Action Executive Director Sandy Buchanan, Brush Wellman Vice President Dan Skoch, you, and I traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Senator Mike DeWine and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur on designating funds to research beryllium disease. Each lawmaker made a commitment to both Citizen Action and Brush Wellman that they would to push for a designation of $1 million to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to research the causes, the prevention, and the treatment of chronic beryllium disease.

These steps mean that employees and neighbors of the Elmore facility are much safer now than they were a few years ago.

Another step forward, in May 2000, was the unprecedented agreement between the City of Lorain and Brush Wellman in which your company promised never to produce, manufacture or store beryllium at their Lorain facility.

I appreciate the openness with which you discussed the problems at the Elmore plant with us. This direct communication was key to resolving many of the issues, and it will be the key to reestablishing relationships with neighbors in Elmore.

Sincerely,

Amy Ryder
Cleveland Area Director

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