Honorable Judge Harland H. Hale
Franklin County Municipal Court
375 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

March 8, 2004

Dear Judge Hale:

This letter is to inform you about my recent meeting with Edward Paul, the owner of Columbus Steel Drum, and the suggestions he offered to Ohio Citizen Action and Gahanna/Jefferson Citizens for A Safe Environment. Gahanna/Jefferson Citizens for A Safe Environment is a local neighborhood watchdog group formed in 2000 to educate the local community about Columbus Steel Drumís pollution.

Kathy Remias, Assistant Program Director for Ohio Citizen Action and I met with Edward Paul and Craig Feltner of Columbus Steel Drum, on Wednesday, February 25th 2004. Mr. Paul informed us of his intention to offer, in upcoming weeks, a settlement to the Attorney Generals office in the pending lawsuit between the Attorney General and Columbus Steel Drum. We were told that this settlement was going to include a Community Relations section with several key suggestions on how to improve Columbus Steel Drumís relations with the local community. Mr. Paul told us that the reason he wanted to meet with us that day was to share these suggestions with us and get our comments and feedback.

I reserved the right not to give any comments until I got a chance to discuss what we were about to hear with the local community.

In the so-called community section of the settlement, Columbus Steel Drum intended to offer the following:
  • The Company would stop the storm water releases from the retention ponds into the surface waters of Ohio and would treat the storm water at the wastewater treatment plant located at their property.
  • Edward Paul offered Ohio Citizen Action $5,000 for various environmental activities, distributed over the period of next two years.
  • Columbus Steel Drum offered hiring a Public Relations person to respond to the community concerns and offered to equip this person with a pager.
  • Columbus Steel Drum offered to participate in a local advisory board, consisting of local leaders, to discuss progress with the clean up of the site.
Even though I reserved the right not to address any of the suggestions at this very meeting, I immediately expressed my outrage with Edward Paulís suggestion to offer Ohio Citizen Action money. I made it very clear to both Edward Paul and Craig Feltner that this was unacceptable. Mr. Paul immediately backed away from the wording and said he would like to look at this money as an environmental grant given to the community. I explained to Mr. Paul that if he wanted to offer, for example, a grant to local schools to hold environmental education workshops, etc, he would have to explore that option himself. I reiterated several times at this meeting that giving any money to Ohio Citizen Action was outrageous and unacceptable.

Mr. Paul knew I was going to be out of town later that week and would get back to him with the response from the community in a weekís time. A week later, on Wednesday March 3, 2004, I called Mr. Paul in his Cincinnati office. Mr. Paul was not in the office and I left him a voicemail. I informed Mr. Paul that the community did not see anything in these suggestions that would "make them feel any safer or better" and therefore rejected to endorse or participate in any of the proposals presented by Columbus Steel Drum. I encouraged Mr. Paul to give me a call back to discuss this in more details. I never heard back from him.

Both the community group and Ohio Citizen Action feel that this new development deserves your attention. This letter is to inform you about the latest meeting and both groupsí refusal to support the activities presented by Columbus Steel Drum in the community section of the proposed upcoming settlement.

If you have any questions, please, feel free to call me.

Sincerely,

Simona Vaclavikova, Program Director
Ohio Citizen Action
3400 North High Street, Suite 430
Columbus, OH 43202
Phone: 614-263-4111
Fax: 614-263-4540