Columbus Steel Drum campaign timeline
March - December, 2002

February 27, 2002:
Ohio Citizen Action begins the Columbus Steel Drum good-neighbor campaign with door-to-door organizing.

March 27, 2002:
Simona Vaclavikova, Columbus Program Director for Ohio Citizen Action, meets with Edward Paul, Chief Executive Officer of Columbus Steel Drum, to inform him about the campaign and the organizationís goals and to invite him to work together to change the facility into a good neighbor. Mr. Paul refuses to acknowledge the environmental problems caused by his facility and considers many of the neighborsí concerns unsupported.

April 10, 2002:
Ohio Citizen Action tours the Columbus Steel Drum facility, hosted by Mr. Paul and Operations Manager Ron Grannan.

April 18, 2002:
The City of Columbus, Division of Sewerage and Drainage issues a "Consent Compliance Order and Assessment of Administrative Fine" to Columbus Steel Drum. The fines total $13,800 for 57 separate violations -- just in the last six months -- of Columbus City Code Chapter 1145 and the Columbus Steel Drum discharge permit. The City said Columbus Steel Drum was in 'significant noncompliance' with the Industrial Pretreatment Program regulations during 2001 for chloroform and in 2002 for chronic violation of carbon disulfide and chloroform; and ten times more bromomethane discharge than allowed. The order establishes a 'Milestone Activities Schedule'.

May 8, 2002:
A power outage on a Columbus Steel Drum furnace scrubber unit results in 71 odor complaints to Mifflin Township Fire, Gahanna Police and Columbia Gas, all in one day. Low cloud cover kept the exhaust from dissipating into the air.

May 15, 2002:
"Residents raise stink over odor," Gahanna News.

The Ohio EPA issues a "Seventh Notice of Violation" charging Columbus Steel Drum with violating of its Title V Operating Permit and the federal Clean Air Act.

May 28, 2002:
The Mifflin Township Fire Dept files with the Ohio EPA a verified complaint for air pollution by Columbus Steel Drum.

June 28, 2002:
Columbus Steel Drum submits a Multi-Media Compliance Plan and Schedule to the Ohio EPA. Columbus Steel Drum says they believe the addition of Cathy Clayton as a new Environmental and Community Outreach Manager to their staff will solve their environmental issues and will bring the facility back into compliance with environemtnal laws by the end of the year 2002.

July 11, 2002:
Ohio Citizen Action holds a community meeting for Columbus Steel drum neighbors. People volunteered to file their own verified complaints. An official from the Franklin County Health Department said the agency will try to get money from the Ohio Department of Health or the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to pay for well testing in the area.

July 18, 2002:
The City of Columbus, Division of Sewerage and Drainage, sends a 'Notice of Assessment of Administrative Fine' to Columbus Steel Drum. The new payment schedule replaces the April 18 consent order. It includes fines totalling $21,400 for additional violations involving the company's release of chloroform, zinc, and carbon disulfide into the public sewer system in April and May.

July 18, 2002:
The City of Gahanna files a verified complaint with the Ohio EPA against Columbus Steel Drum.

July 24, 2002:
Dayton Freight files an odor complaint with the Ohio EPA.

July 30, 2002:
Jefferson Township files a '60-Day Intent to Sue' notice against Columbus Steel Drum for violating the Clean Air Act. The Jefferson Board of Trustees asked the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O'Brien to file the notice because despite repeated notices of violation, the Ohio EPA had not taken any legal or enforcement action. The letter outlines four categories of violations: (1) modifying emissions units without applying and obtaining permits to install; (2) mass emissions violations; (3) failure to submit carbon monoxide emission reports; and (4) air pollution nuisances -- 'objectionable odors'.

August 8, 2002:
Gahanna city officials meet about the Columbus Steel Drum problem. Franklin County Health Department officials do their own file review at Ohio EPA. They ask for copies of more than 300 documents; Ohio EPA has only provided 1/3 of them so far. County health officials say that when they get the paperwork, they will apply for funding from the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for well testing in the area.

August 9, 2002:
The Ohio EPA, Division of Air Pollution, notifies Columbus Steel Drum that they are not fulfilling their promises under the June 28 compliance plan, and ordering the firm to submit all request information within 30 days.

August 15, 2002:
Residential neighbors complain of a "natural gas smell," and neighboring businesses report a "paint thinner smell."

August 17, 2002:
The Franklin County Health Department files verified complaints for air and water permit violations with the Ohio EPA.

August 22, 2002:
Ohio Citizen Action holds a second community meeting, with a guest representative from the U.S. EPA in Chicago, Kathy Triantafillou. Neighbors bring seventeen verified complaints are collected from neighbors at the meeting. People will be making calls to the U.S. EPA, Franklin County Health Department, and the Ohio Attorney General's office to have their complaints logged.

August 22, 2002:
"Township plans legal action against company," Rocky Fork Enterprise.

August 28, 2002:
The seventeen verified complaints from neighbors are hand delivered to the Ohio EPA and date stamped.

"Company in hot water with EPA, Ohio Citizen Action group," Gahanna News.

September 5, 2002:
"Threat of suit pushes EPA to act on polluter," Columbus Dispatch.

September 11, 2002:
The City of Columbus, Division of Sewerage and Drainage, fines Columbus Steel Drum $2,500 for their last three arsenic and cyanide violations in July and August.

September 17, 2002:
City of Columbus officials meet with Columbus Steel Drum officials to discuss compliance issues regarding the last program violation issued on August 23, 2002. They extend dates for installing the ozonator, a wastewater treatment device to help remove cyanide. Columbus Steel Drum agree to submit the engineering report by October 21, 2002, and submit a 'permit to install' application by December 17, 2002.

September 20, 2002:
Ohio EPA finalizes its Enforcement Package based on air violations against Columbus Steel Drum and sends to the Attorney General office.

September 26, 2002:
Third Community Action Group meeting, with guest speakers Cedika White, City of Gahanna; Chief Dale Ingram, Jefferson Towenship Fire Department; and Paul Wenning, Franklin County Board of Health. Photos.

September 30, 2002:
Columbus Steel Drum says it has installed as many as three new scrubbers on their air emission units by the end of September/beginning of October 2002 to fight the odors. The effectiveness of these scrubbers still needs to be determined. The money invested by the Columbus Steel Drum is almost $30,000 per each scrubber.

As part of the Multi-Media Compliance Plan and Schedule, Columbus Steel Drum performs a stack test on the furnace emission unit. This unit failed the stack test back in April 2001 when it was found to be releasing dangerous pollutants such as chromium, lead, and particulate matter into the air -- sometimes as much as five times over the legal limit. It will take 3 - 4 weeks to get the results.

October 1, 2002:
Columbus Steel Drumís Operations Manager Ron Grannan and a new Environmental Manager, Gary Davis, meet with Ohio Citizen Actionís Simona Vaclavikova to go over their multi-media compliance plan and schedule and to identify progress done by the company so far. They discuss Columbus Steel Drumís involvement in the community outreach activities and workshops to build a better relationship and accountability with the community.

October 2, 2002: "Residents, group meet to fight alleged polluter," Gahanna News.

October 9, 2002: Columbus Steel Drum cartoon, Clayton Strohmeyer, Gahanna News.

Columbus Steel Drum has a bad odor day. The Ohio EPA receives complaints from residents of Gahanna and Jefferson, St. Matthew School, McGraw-Hill, and Columbia Gas. The gas company had sixty natural gas complaints that day, which they attribute to Columbus Steel Drum. They are exploring ways to bill Columbus Steel Drum for lost time and wages spent on calls due to their odors.

October 11, 2002: The Ohio EPA Division of Hazardous Waste Management sends a letter to Columbus Steel Drum citing them for several violations of Ohioís hazardous waste rules. In June and July, 2002, they sent 3 shipments, approximately 35,000 pounds each, of hazardous waste to a sanitary solid waste landfill instead of a permitted Treatment, Storage, and Disposal facility. They were also cited for letting waste accumulate on site for 231 days. This was more than the 90 days allowed by law without a proper hazardous waste storage permit. The letter outlines several things that need to be done within 30 and 60 days. The Ohio EPA Central Office is considering enforcement actions against Columbus Steel Drum.

October 15, 2002: Local businesses complain about odors to the Mifflin Fire Department. The Fire Chief reported it to the Ohio EPA, describing the odor as similar to natural gas with a pesticide component and burned paint smell.

October 23, 2002: The Ohio Attorney General sends a notice to Columbus Steel Drum that they have sent air, water and hazardous waste violation papers to the Attorney General's Office for legal action. The Attorney General asks Columbus Steel Drum to meet with her staff by November 8 to resolve the overwhelming odor complaints. Otherwise, she said, the State intends to file a lawsuit and pursue immediate injunctive relief in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

October 24, 2002: Ohio Citizen Action holds the fourth community action meeting. A core group of citizens put together more action items to pursue.

October 25, 2002: At least 10 employees of McGraw Hill leave work early, as vapors and odors from Columbus Steel Drum flood the first and second floors of the McGraw Hill facility.

October 31, 2002: "Columbus Steel Drum put on notice," Rocky Fork Enterprise

November 8, 2002: Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery files a lawsuit in Franklin County Environmental Court against Columbus Steel Drum. The State is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief as well as civil penalties. A public hearing is set for December 5.

November 9, 2002: "State files suit to close drum recycler," Columbus Dispatch.

November 13, 2002: "Injunction request filed on 'nuisance' allegations," Gahanna News.

November 21, 2002: The community group meets for the fifth time, and discusses the December 5 public hearing. The group gives themselves the name "Gahanna Jefferson: Citizens for a Safe Environment".

November 26, 2002: Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and Columbus Steel Drum enter into an agreed order for preliminary injunctive relief authorized by Judge Richard Pfeiffer, Jr., of Franklin County Municipal Court. Columbus Steel Drum agrees to have a third-party consultant, RK & Associates, conduct an odor review and abatement study. The final report, including an evaluation and recommendations, must be submitted to the Ohio EPA. The public hearing for preliminary injunctive relief scheduled for December 5 is postponed until January 23, 2003.

November 27, 2002: Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb writes Ohio Citizen Action Program Director, Simona Vaclavikova, expressing Gahanna's shared concerns about Columbus Steel Drum's pollution. She writes that her administrative staff is doing everything possible to eradicate this problem.

"Plant accused of foul odors gets reprieve," Columbus Dispatch.

November 28, 2002: "Agencies: water near Columbus Steel Drum isnít polluted," Rocky Fork Enterprise.

December 1, 2002: WBNS TV-10 runs special report on Columbus Steel Drum during the 11:00 PM Eyewitness News. They include comments quotes from Ohio EPA and Ohio Citizen Action staff, Marjorie Koch of the community group, and Ron Grannan of Columbus Steel Drum.

December 5, 2002: Gahanna/Jefferson: Citizens for a Safe Environment meets.

"Hearing on Columbus Steel Drum put off until January 23," Rocky Fork Enterprise.

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