Beryllium ban finally official
LORAIN -- A city
councilwoman who fought for more than a year to ban a controversial
substance within city limits said she now can rest easier.
A representative from Brush Wellman
Inc. signed a voluntary agreement with the city on Wednesday,
stating that the company's bronze engineering plant in the Lorain
would not produce, store or manufacture beryllium.
Beryllium, a compound used as an
alloy with other metals in the defense, electronics and automotive
industry, has been known to cause chronic and fatal lung disease if
its dust is inhaled during its manufacturing process.
State and federal laws regulate the
production of beryllium. But the compound earned a reputation
locally at the former Brush Beryllium plant on West First Street in
Lorain during the 1930s and 40s. Several workers there and residents
living near the plant at the time became ill and died, according to
a study completed in 1944.
City Councilwoman Kathy Tavenner,
D-at large, had fought for the past 15 months to get Council to
enact a ban. She said Wednesday that she is glad the issue has been
laid to rest.
"After hard work and fighting for
this ... it's nice to see the agreement finalized and see something
ultimately get accomplished," Tavenner said.
Ron Walczak, vice president of bulk
products for Brush Wellman, signed the agreement for the
The signed agreement marks a major
victory for Lorain residents, said Amy Ryder, director of the Ohio
Citizen Action Committee's office in Cleveland, an activists group
that worked with Tavenner on the effort to ban beryllium.
"The agreement definitely brings in a
safety factor to Lorain," said Ryder, whose organization also is
campaigning against beryllium production at Brush Wellman plants in
"The ban safeguards the people from
the hazards of beryllium. There's a lot of people out there who have
been working with beryllium that said they didn't know that it could
be a harmful substance."
Representatives from Brush Wellman
did not return telephone messages seeking comment.