Columbus Steel Drum
News from 2002

Dec 5: Hearing on Columbus Steel Drum put off until Jan. 23
Residents fear problem might never be solved

COLUMBUS -- "[Ohio Citizen Action's Simona] Vaclavikova -- who has helped organize about 15 of Columbus Steel Drum's neighbors into the Gahanna-Jefferson Citizens for a Safe Environment (G-J CASE) -- said she too has doubts that the agreement will resolve problems at the plant. 'There is reason to be skeptical,' Vaclavikova said. 'Columbus Steel Drum has made a lot of promises and presented a lot of ideas and plans on how to abate the odors in the past. It has never worked.' The fact that the consultant charged with identifying the problem and finding a solution was selected by the company also is questionable, she said. 'Who's paying them?' Vaclavikova asked. 'How much are they really going to find and are they really going to address the serious issues?'" Miriam Segaloff, Rocky Fork Enterprise.

Dec 4: Columbus Steel Drum hearing postponed from December 5 to January 23

COLUMBUS -- Franklin County Judge Richard C. Pfeiffer, Jr. has postponed a Dec 5 hearing on a motion for preliminary injunctive relief from the Columbus Steel Drum's air pollution and odors. The hearing is now scheduled for January 23, 2003. For more information, contact Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action, (614) 263-4111.

Nov 28: Agencies: Water near Columbus Steel Drum isn't polluted
Ohio EPA, township find no contamination of wells or streams

COLUMBUS -- "The extent to which the company has been effective in solving its air quality and odor problem will be determined at a Dec. 5 hearing before Judge Richard C. Pfeiffer of the Franklin County Municipal Court's environmental division. Pfeiffer is expected to rule on a request for injunctive relief filed against the company earlier this month by Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery's office. Grannan said he is still hopeful that attorneys representing the company will reach an out-of-court agreement with the attorney general's office before the hearing," Miriam Segaloff, Rocky Fork Enterprise.

Nov 27: Plant accused of foul odors gets reprieve
Hearing delay gives Gahanna recycler time to pinpoint, clean up pollution

COLUMBUS -- "A Gahanna steel-drum recycler will have more time to identify and eliminate foul odors at its plant under an agreement reached yesterday with the Ohio attorney general's office. The agreement delays a Dec. 5 court hearing that could have resulted in the plant's temporary closure. . . . Environmental activists said they fear the agreement will do nothing more than delay the resolution of longstanding problems. Neighbors of the plant, at 1385 Blatt Blvd., have complained for years about nausea, dizziness, headaches, sore throats and burning eyes. 'It's a disappointment,' said Simona Vaclavikova, a spokeswoman for Ohio Citizen Action. 'The community has to deal with these odors for another month and a half. It's not addressing the issue of immediacy whatsoever.' Vaclavikova also expressed disappointment that the agreement allows Columbus Steel Drum to select the firm that will conduct the tests. 'Who's paying them?' Vaclavikova asked. 'How much are they really going to find, and are they really going to address the serious issues?'" Miriam Segaloff, ThisWeek Newspapers/Columbus Dispatch [no link].

GAHANNA -- "The City of Gahanna has been very proactive," letter to Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action, from Becky Stinchcomb, Mayor of Gahanna.

Nov 14: Columbus members and friends: Please mark your calendars
Columbus Steel Drum injunction hearing set for December 5

COLUMBUS -- "Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery finally sued Columbus Steel Drum on Nov 8. Judge Richard C. Pfeiffer, Jr. has set a Dec 5 hearing on a motion for preliminary injunctive relief from the company's air pollution and odors. The hearing will be held in Judge Pfeiffer's courtroom at 8:30 AM, 25th floor, Franklin County Municipal Court Building, corner of South High Street and Fulton Street, Columbus. Neighbors, workers from nearby facilities, local fire chiefs, and Ohio EPA staff will testify. Please join us for this important event. Call me for directions or more information," Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action (614) 263-4111.

Nov 13: Columbus Steel Drum injunction request filed on 'nuisance' allegations
Operations manager Ron Grannan says he's' disappointed' in the request

GAHANNA -- "[Simona Vaclavikova, program director for Ohio Citizen Action,] said she hopes a settlement out of court is not reached. 'I think there's a very good case against the company. There's enough proof of their violations and we want the judge to hear that,' she said. The company's performance on promises it made to remediate the odor problem 'was never good enough,' Vaclavikova said. Vaclavikova said she would prefer the company use more immediate means to fix its problems. For one, she said, the company should get a permit for modifications to exterior and interior drum coating paint booths and drying ovens. Without the permit, no guarantee exists that the company is using the best available technology. Vaclavikova said the lawsuit seeks relief only on the odors and that other possible contamination of the grounds and possible groundwater reportedly exist and need to be remediated as well, " Jef Benedetti, Gahanna News.

Nov 10: State files suit to close drum recycler

COLUMBUS -- "The state attorney general's office is trying to temporarily shut down a steel drum recycler in response to years of complaints from neighbors. 'Natural gas-like' or 'burnt paint' smells from the site could endanger people's health, said a lawsuit that Attorney General Betty Montgomery filed Friday against Columbus Steel Drum Co. and its parent company, Container Recyclers of Cincinnati," Associated Press.

Nov 9: State files suit to close drum recycler
Attorney general also seeking fines for EPA violations at Gahanna business

COLUMBUS -- "The state attorney general's office is attempting to temporarily shut down a Gahanna drum-recycling company after years of complaints that the plant is making residents sick. Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery filed a lawsuit yesterday in Franklin County Environmental Court against Columbus Steel Drum, 1385 Blatt Blvd., and its parent company, Container Recyclers of Cincinnati. The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction to close the business until it's cleaned up, as well as a penalty of $25,000 for each day the company was in violation of EPA standards since January 2001. . .News of the lawsuit came as a shock to Ed Paul, principal owner of Container Recyclers. 'Earlier this week, we met with them (EPA officials) and felt we had something from a remedy standpoint,' Paul said," Jodi Nirode, Columbus Dispatch, [no link].

Nov 1: Columbus Steel Drum put on notice

GAHANNA -- "Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery has given Columbus Steel Drum a Nov. 8 deadline to stop sending noxious odors into the surrounding communities or or face the state in court. "This year alone, Ohio EPA has received 15 verified complaints ... regarding those odors, among other problems," Assistant Attorney General Douglas A. Curran wrote in an Oct. 23 letter to the president of the Cincinnati-based company. "These odors need to be abated immediately." Residents have been complaining of the smell of natural gas and burnt paint coming from the plant for years. '" Miriam Segaloff, Gahanna News.

Oct 23: Referral of Columbus Steel Drum to the Attorney General's Office for environmental violations

COLUMBUS -- "If we cannot get this preliminary, pressing issue concerning the odor complaints resolved on or by November 8, 2002, the State intends to file a lawsuit and pursue immediate injunctive relief in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas," Douglas Curran, Office of Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, letter to Edward Paul, President, Columbus Steel Drum.

Oct 9: When you work near Columbus Steel Drum, you don't want a bad parking space.

Editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Clayton Strohmeyer, Gahanna News, October 9, 2002..

Oct 6: Columbus Steel Drum:
Gahanna and Jefferson Township odor survey

GAHANNA -- "If you live in Gahanna or Jefferson Township and you notice an odor in the air, please print out this form, complete, and mail or fax to Chief Dale Ingram, Jefferson Township Fire Department, 6767 Havens Corners Road, Black Lick 43003, FAX (614) 861-0968," Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action

Oct 3: Columbus Steel Drum campaign timeline

GAHANNA -- "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,'" Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action

Oct 2: Residents, groups meet to fight alleged polluter
Columbus Steel Drum's pollutants are causing breathing problems and fouling water supplies, meeting attendees say

GAHANNA -- "Columbus Steel Drum still is under the gun from local citizens' groups and governmental bodies. More than 30 people were on hand at New Horizons Community Church in Blacklick on Thursday to discuss ways to address air and water pollution allegedly caused by the company's facility on Blatt Boulevard. The company's 18-acre facility reconditions 55-gallon steel drums for resale. The drums are cleaned in a gas-fired furnace, spray-cleaned and repainted. . . . Members of Ohio Citizen Action launched a letter-writing campaign regarding the odors coming from Columbus Steel Drum. That campaign netted more than 7,000 letters from the community," Ryan Kelley, Columbus Suburban News
Meeting photos.

Oct 1: Photos now on line:
Community meeting on Columbus Steel Drum

Marjorie KochGAHANNA -- Left, Marjorie Koch, a neighbor of Columbus Steel Drum, shares her experience and concerns at the September 26 meeting. Directly behind her is Ohio Citizen Action statewide board member Mike Jones.
Photos by Kathy Remias, Ohio Citizen Action.

Sep 5: Threat of suit pushes Ohio EPA to act on polluter

COLUMBUS -- "Air, water and soil contamination at Columbus Steel Drum has been well-documented by [Ohio] EPA investigators. But senior agency officials declined to take legal action against the company until local officials threatened to sue earlier this summer, records show. The EPA asked for help from Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery's office, which sent the industrial-drum recycler a letter Aug. 22 urging the company to negotiate a cleanup plan," Michael Hawthorne, Columbus Dispatch.

Aug 28: Company in hot water with EPA, local group
Columbus Steel Drum isn't following its own compliance plan, says Ohio Citizen Action

GAHANNA -- "At least one organization, Ohio Citizen Action, says the compliance plan is not being followed. The group held a public meeting Thursday night at New Horizons Community Church. 'We've had several members in the community who have contacted us in the last two weeks,' said Kathy Remias, the group's program assistant. Remias said the complaints were of a 'paint-thinner odor' coming from Columbus Steel Drum. 'They're still not correcting the problem,' Remias said. 'As far as we know, it appears that nobody is managing this compliance plan,'" Ryan Kelley, Columbus Suburban Newspapers.

Aug 22: Township plans legal action against company

JEFFERSON TWP -- "'The end game - the outcome - we all want to see is Columbus Steel Drum clean up,' Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said. 'We'd like to see them get into compliance. They do employ a lot of people here, but the safety of the citizens comes first.' Simona Vaclavikova of Ohio Citizen Action said she has been helping to organize residents concerned about pollution from the plant since March. Several meetings have been held and about 6,000 letters sent to the company, Vaclavikova said. Another community meeting is scheduled for tonight at 7 at the New Horizons Community Church at 2100 Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road," Miriam Segaloff, Rocky Fork Enterprise.

Jul 30: Notice of intent to sue Columbus Steel Drum

COLUMBUS -- "I am writing on behalf of the Jefferson Township Board of Trustees to notify you of their intent to file suit for significant and ongoing violations of the Clean Air Act at the above-referenced location. . . Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 7604(a)(1), the Jefferson Township Board of Trustees is entitled to bring suit to enjoin violations of an emission standard or limitation, and to seek civil penalties for such violations. The Board is also entitled to bring suit against any person who is operating in violation of any condition of a permit required under part C of subchapter of the Clean Air Act (452 U.S. C. 740, et sec). the Clean Air Act provides for civil penalties of up to $25,000.00 for each violation per day," Prosecuting Attorney Ron O'Brien, Franklin County.

Jul 21: Ceremony celebrates couple's milestone

COLUMBUS -- "They met 50 years ago this weekend at a fish fry in her small Indiana town and got hitched 10 days later at the Baptist preacher's house. 'Oh, my God, Nancy!' her mother wailed. 'You've haven't known him well enough.' But Nancy Jane chose well. 'Ours was one of those 'Until death do you part' kind of deals,' she said. . . . The family made do in a three-bedroom house across from Columbus Steel Drum, where Robert worked. Nancy heard the boom the day the plant exploded in 1963. 'Lord,' she prayed, 'please don't let Robert be in there.' Nancy found him at the hospital, burned but alive . . . ," Barbara Carmen, Columbus Dispatch.

Jul 11: Columbus Steel Drum: Community meeting July 11
Cleaning somebody else’s dirt
-- polluting our neighborhood

Meeting photos
COLUMBUS -- "Did you know that one of the most polluted and contaminated sites in Ohio is right in our neighborhood? Columbus Steel Drum processes 6,000 drums a day and approximately 50,000 drums continue to be stored on the site. Each drum cleaned at this facility can have up to one inch of any kind of hazardous residue left in it. Did you know that despite the company’s proven violations of environmental laws, Columbus Steel Drum continues to operate, releasing toxic chemicals such as benzo(a)pyrene, lead, chromium, and cyanide over the legal limits into the soil, water, and air? Did you know there were lots of ways you can help pressure the company to clean up and become a good neighbor?" Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action.

May 15: Residents raise stink over odor
City officials are watching Columbus Steel Drum after 71 residents called to complain last Wednesday

GAHANNA -- "Some citizens already have taken action, according to Simona Vaclavikova, spokeswoman for Ohio Citizen Action in Columbus. After an odor event earlier this year, the watchdog organization, which counts 100,000 members in the Buckeye state, started a letter-writing campaign to Columbus Steel Drum. About 1,300 letters have been received and forwarded to the company since February," Jef Benedetti, Gahanna News.
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