Friday, November 16, 2001
Eramet cuts its toxic air emissions
Plant officials, others seek source of odorBy Tom Hrach
An official with Eramet is defending the company against citizen
comments made at an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency meeting that the plant
is the source of foul odors noticed by people who live nearby.
hearing attracted about 100 people, many of whom were critical of the plant and
its emissions. Rik Melvin, manager of environmental affairs with Eramet,
attended but did not speak to the group.
"The object was to get comments on
the draft permits," Melvin said. "I didn't see it as a forum for company
officials to make speeches. I can assure you I took notes, and brought them back
to our management."
Eramet is the largest industrial employer in the county,
supplying work to about 480 people.
Melvin said Eramet has decreased its
toxic air emissions by 39 percent from 1999 to 2000, a significant decrease of
more than 1.7 million pounds of material. He said the new permits do not allow
the company to emit any more pollution than it does now.
The hearing was
specifically about consolidating the company's air pollution permits, but many
citizens took the opportunity to talk about other issues at the plant. The plant
was accused of causing health problems in citizens and destroying the quality of
life for citizens.
"If they say they've reduced it, I'm in no position to
say it's right or not right. But as far as living here, I can say we still get
this obnoxious odor more often that I want to admit," said Tom Hockenbrocht of
Pine Lane, just outside of Marietta. "I just think there's more to what's
happening there than we know in our community."
Melvin is working with a
group of citizens on an Odor Task Force, hoping to get to the bottom of the
complaints from citizens who live near the plant. The odor issue was brought up
by more than one citizen at the Wednesday hearing.
"They are looking for the
source just as we are," Melvin said. "But when they look at these high numbers,
they say that's it ... We know there is a problem with odor, but let's not
confuse it with other issues."
The new toxic release figures from Eramet
will be part of the Ohio EPA's annual toxic emissions report early next year
that compares all toxic releases in the state. Last year's report showed that
Eramet was the fourth largest emitter of toxic chemicals in the state.
in the new report, which is due in April 2002, Melvin said the public will
notice Eramet falling on the list of top toxic polluters.
One of the reasons
is that the company closed one of its production units in October 2000, and that
significantly reduced the amount of toxic chemicals released to the land and the
The total toxic releases from the plant in 2000 was 11,808,000, which
is an 18.8 percent reduction. Melvin expects even greater reductions in 2001
because the effect of the closed production unit will be for the entire year.
"The odor problem is not related to this, but sometimes no one wants to
believe it," Melvin said. "We are working with the task force and trying to
analyze this as best as we can."