Lorain beryllium agreement
LORAIN -- After a
15-month battle, the city quietly laid a ghost to rest that one
Councilwoman and several residents feared might reappear in the
City Council on Monday approved by an
11-1 margin an agreement with Brush Wellman Inc. that would restrict
the company's Lorain bronze engineering plant from producing
Brush Wellman is the world's No. 1
producer of beryllium, a metal substance used with other metals in
the defense, automotive and electronics industry. Beryllium dust
inhaled during the production process is known to cause a chronic
and fatal lung disease.
The agreement will restrict the
production and storage of beryllium at the plant in Lorain. Company
officials agreed two weeks ago to sign the agreement on the
condition that stop conducting public hearings regarding
During the 1930s and 1940s, a Brush
Beryllium plant was located at West First Street on the Lake Erie
shore. Several plant workers as well as residents living near the
facility got sick and died, according to a medical study conducted
in 1944. The plant was destroyed by fire after a boiler exploded in
Councilwoman Kathy Tavenner, D-at
large, had fought for a beryllium ban for more than a year because
she feared the company might start producing the substance at its
Lorain Industrial Park facility, which opened in 1996.
The Ohio Citizen Action Committee
joined Tavenner's cause in February. Members from the environmental
activist group collected about 1,300 signatures from residents who
said they were opposed to beryllium production in the
Tavenner said she was pleased an
agreement had been reached.
"It's great. Being on Council, I'm
always looking for issues to get the city moving and things that are
at fault that we can correct," she said. "I'll have to see the
signatures on the agreement before I'm totally happy."
Tavenner said she expects city
officials and company representatives to sign the agreement in about
Councilwoman Anne Molnar, D-at large,
cast the only vote against the voluntary ban.
"It's a bogus agreement," Molnar
said. "Kathy Tavenner didn't ban anything. If there's ever an
all-out war, the government will dictate who produces beryllium and
where. ... The production of beryllium already is regulated by the
state and federal government."
In other business, Council approved
an agreement with the Ohio Department of Development to accept a $1
million grant for the riverfront urban renewal project. The money
will be used for road improvements along Arizona and California
avenues during the next two years.