Gahanna News, November 13, 2002


Columbus Steel Drum Injunction
request filed on 'nuisance' allegations
Operations manager Ron Grannan
says he's' disappointed' in the request

By JEF BENEDETTI

A company skilled at detecting odor sources is expected to begin work Friday at Columbus Steel Drum on Blatt Boulevard.

Columbus Steel Drum operations manager Ron Grannan said that the contract with the detection firm was close to being finalized. He declined to name the firm, but said it has worked with sewer districts and other metropolitan organizations.

Columbus Steel Drum is seeking the source of alleged odors that have affected residents and businesses in the surrounding area.

Grannan on Nov. 5 met with officials from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery's office regarding Montgomery's deadline Friday for Columbus Steel Drum to fix the problem or be hauled into court.

"When we walked out of the meeting (Nov. 5), I thought we had a good game plan," Grannan said.

On Monday, Grannan said he was "disappointed and half-shocked" when he found that Montgomery's Environmental Enforcement section filed a request Friday for an injunction against the company.

Franklin County Environmental Judge Richard Pfeiffer Jr. will begin hearing the matter Dec. 5.

Grannan and company owner Ed Paul both have stated the company wants to be a good neighbor. The company processes between 5,000 and 5,500 55-gallon barrels per day on one shift from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with hours dictated by customer orders, Grannan said.

The company spent around $100,000 on control systems on three scrubbers on one of the company's production lines.

"I really thought (installing) the three scrubbers was going to do it," Grannan said.

The suit seeks an immediate end to the odors and compliance by Columbus Steel Drum, owned by Container Recyclers Inc. of Cincinnati, with Ohio law regarding the operation of the Blatt Boulevard facility. The suit also seeks a civil fine of $25,000 per day for each violation alleged in the state's complaint.

Grannan said Container Recyclers operates two other drum recycling plants in Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., but problems there have "not been to same extent" as the ones experienced in Gahanna and surrounding areas.

Forces marshaled

Forces are marshaled against the company. Montgomery's request for injunction alleges five counts: acting as a public nuisance; failing to prevent the odors; failing to maintain exhaust gas temperature; failing to submit for permits to modify parts of a production line; and exceeding emissions limitation for hydrochloric acid.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has received a reported 15 verified complaints against Columbus Steel Drum. Fire department officials from Mifflin Township, whose biggest customers are residents and businesses of Gahanna, have confirmed a high volume of complaints of odors that smell like burned paint or natural gas that allegedly were caused by emissions from the company's plant.

Simona Vaclavikova, program director for Ohio Citizen Action, said the suit is a good step in the right direction.

"I wish the community stays involved," she said.

Vaclavikova 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.