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Group airs pollution concerns to council

By ROGER ADKINS, Staff Writer

VIENNA — An environmental awareness group spoke to city officials Thursday regarding its concerns about the air quality in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The Neighbors for Clean Air attended a 7 p.m. city council meeting Thursday to voice concerns about pollution from Eramet of Marietta. Barbara Stewart, group member, presented city council members with a 26-page document called “Citizens’ Audit of Eramet Marietta.” Neighbors for Clean Air of Marietta and the Ohio Citizen Action Center of Cincinnati are listed as the authors.

The groups have gone to other government bodies in the area in an effort to increase awareness of environmental issues surrounding the plant.

John Whistler, group member, said the group is not “anti-Eramet.” NCA recognizes the plant’s industrial importance and is not seeking to shut down the facility, he said. However, the group is concerned about the plant’s emissions and is leading a campaign calling for improvements.

“We have identified Eramet as the primary polluter in the area,” Whistler said.

Specifically, the group is concerned about the levels of manganese-containing dust released by the plant.

According to the audit, Eramet’s Marietta plant is unique in the U.S. and Canada.

“This plant is one of the world’s largest manganese ferroalloys production sites and is the only producer of manganese ferroalloys in the United States and Canada,” according to the audit.

Samples taken from sites around the Mid-Ohio Valley revealed manganese dust, the group said. The samples were taken from the siding of homes and similar locations. Chromium also was found in a large portion of the samples, the group said.

The company owns a similar plant in Norway that produce significantly less pollution than the local plant, according to the audit. For example, in 2004 Eramet Marietta released 10 times the amount of manganese dust as the Norway counterpart, according to the audit.

NCA believes the local plant should use the same control measures and processes as the plant in Norway.

“We believe that it’s time for the citizens of the area to take the matter into their own hands and get something done,” Whistler said.

Ruth Breech of the Ohio Citizen Action group said Eramet needs to become a better industrial neighbor.

“We know there are investments they can make to be better corporate citizens in the area,” she said.

Bob Marshall, city council member, said the Neigbors for Clean Air and Ohio Citizen Action are to be commended for their work in making citizens aware of these issues.

“Your efforts are appreciated,” he said.

Breech said the groups had representatives going door-to-door in Vienna on Thursday to discuss the issue with citizens. That will continue today, she said.

In other business:

? Council tabled bid approvals for the purchase of three trucks for the public works department, an excavator and a fire truck. The measures were tabled because better rates for financing have been discovered, but council members have not had a chance to review that information, said Mayor David C. Nohe.

Contact Roger Adkins at radkins@newsandsentinel.com.



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