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April 14, 2003

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State, Steel Drum reach agreement
Resolution of case will require approval by environmental judge

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Enterprise Staff Writer

Representatives of the Ohio Attorney General's Office and Columbus Steel Drum said they have reached an agreement that will settle the state's request for an immediate injunction against the company.

The parties were expected to appear Wednesday afternoon in Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Harland Hale's courtroom. Hale said he will review the 12-page agreement and, should he find everything in order, sign it.

The attorney general's office filed suit against the Gahanna company in November, after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on how to abate odors emanating from the Blatt Boulevard plant. The state petitioned for immediate injunctive relief against the Gahanna-based company.

Hale has worked with both sides to keep the case out of the courtroom since he took over from former environmental court judge Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. in February.

"In a general sense, it brings certainty to an otherwise uncertain situation," Hale said. "If you go to trial, there is a chance you may win, there is a chance you may lose. There is a lot to be said for the resolution of any case. Hopefully, it helps solve the problem. We can sit here and talk for weeks, but it doesn't do anything."

A spokesman for Columbus Steel Drum could not be reached for comment.

However, attorney general's spokesman Mark Gribben said his agency is confident the agreement will go forward.

"I think everyone's pretty serious about this one," Gribben said. "We thought we had agreements before and they fell through. I don't think that's the case with this one."

Gribben declined to release specifics of the settlement but did say he thought area residents would be pleased.

"I've looked over the agreement and it certainly looks like Columbus Steel Drum is going to be taking some action to eliminate odors and clean up the air conditions," Gribben said. "I can't go into specifics now, but there are things they are going to start doing the day this thing is signed that people are hopefully going to notice right away."

A trial date for the remainder of the case has not yet been set, Hale said. However, he said he anticipates this week's agreement will be incorporated into any additional settlements that are reached.


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