Oct 13, 1999: Environmental group asks St. Bernard firm to cut toxins

CINCINNATI -- "Environmentalists took aim Tuesday at a St. Bernard company they claim has a long history of pollution. The Campaign for Safer Neighborhoods held a press conference intended to put public pressure on Cincinnati Specialties LLC to reduce pollution," Al Andry, Cincinnati Post.
Oct 1999: St. Bernard chemical firm cited by watchdog group for pollution

CINCINNATI -- "With the release of the Campaign for Safer Neighborhood's Citizen Audit of Cincinnati Specialties, Inc. on Oct. 12, local residents have a new tool to use in combating noxious odors and pollution in their neighborhood. The report was a year in the making and addresses concerns neighbors have had about pollution produced by Cincinnati Specialties -- an organic chemical producer in St. Bernard that makes high intensity sweeteners, corrosion inhibitors and specialty chemical intermediates," Darlene D'Agostino, Cincinnati City Beat.
Jan 1999: 7,000 letters from neighbors get Cincinnati Specialties' attention

By John Criswell, Outreach Coordinator, Environmental Community Organization

James McKenna, President of Cincinnati Specialties, Inc., is starting to talk with his neighbors after being inundated with 7,000 letters comlaining about the dangerous emissions coming from the plant.

Cincinnati Specialties in St. Bernard is Ohio's second worst emitter of toxins which can harm human development, reproduction and the hormone system, according to a study released in October by Ohio Citizen Action.

McKenna opened the doors to the first-ever citizens tour of the facility in August and met again with area leaders in December. They are discussing how to eliminate releases of these dangerous toxins, eliminate smells from the factory that permeate the community, and reduce the danger of a chlorine accident. Several rail cars are on site, each with a capacity of ninety tons of chlorine. Citizens want Cincinnati Specialties to enclose these rail cars to reduce the risk of accidents.

The St. Bernard neighborhood is at the center of a concentration of chemical plants, including four of Hamilton County's top five releasers of pollution that can harm development, reproduction or the hormone system, including the Henkel Corporation Emery Group in Winton Place, Hilton-Davis in Pleasant Ridge, and Procter and Gamble and Cincinnati Specialties Inc. both in St. Bernard.

These pollutants, even in low doses, can damage the ability of fetuses and children to develop into sexually mature adults. They can cause birth defects, low birth weight, infertility, and tumors, block ovulation, and change menstrual cycles and the formation of the penis.
The community coalition, organized by Ohio Citizen Action and the Environmental Community Organization, includes North Avondale Neighborhood Association, Bond Hill Community Council, Winton Hills Citizen Action Association, the Miami Chapter of the Sierra Club, Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, Coalition of Neighborhoods, Mother of Christ Church in Winton Hills, Communities United For Action, Rivers Unlimited, and the Mill Creek Restoration Project.

Selita Rios
"It is so obvious. I mean you can smell the stuff in the air. That is something that is real hard for people to close their eyes and pretend it is not there when you can smell it.

"Most people think, 'what I care about doesn't matter because the companies have all the money.' Well, if you have enough people who think, 'you know what, I think I am going to make a difference' and enough people band together then that's how it happens.

"I think that with the history of activism and the really good people that we have right now - it's a really good opportunity to make a change. The neighborhood is so active and so behind us. It is kind of shooting for things and I think pragmatically we can really do it."

Gerry Kraus
"PMC has been polluting in the North Avondale Neighborhood, who knows how much it has been polluting but, at one time they polluted something visible, and it was Tolytriazole. It left white spots on people's cars and outdoor furniture. We did some research and found out that they had a few chlorine releases that went through the neighborhood and one of which went toward the Jewish and University Hospital and they had to close their air intakes. But the fact is that in order to go from PMC to the hospital it had to go through North Avondale.

"Chlorine is used in all sorts of things and it seems very innocuous but when you think of it in terms of being used to make mustard gas and chemical warfare in World War I with all of those horror stories then it gives it different perspective.

"Who wants to live in a community where you're being poisoned?

Linda Briscoe
"I think that is what gets everybody, when you know something is wrong, but they will tell you it is not.

"All of them say they are meeting the standards but, whose standards? Is the standard safe? Because they pass the level they are supposed to - that still doesn't say they are not harming the community."

James Jordan
"A lot of these corporations affect the entire community and so the strategy is to get the entire community involved. If you can't rely on state, federal and local agencies to do what needs to be done you have to have groups like Citizen Action to have these corporations answer to what they are doing to the environment. It's very important to have an effective coalition because the agencies are there but, in order to make sure things get done, the community has to be involved."

Marvin Kraus
"What I found so important is the network you get through groups like Citizen Action, to find out that you are not alone, you are not a voice in the wilderness, it's going on everywhere and some places are further advanced."