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News from USWA: Steelworkers Call for Environmental Justice in Middletown.

Business Editors


The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) today is encouraging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Ohio to continue prosecuting AK Steel (NYSE:AKS) for a number of alleged pollution violations at the company's Middletown, Ohio plant.

This announcement comes the day after filings in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA on June 29, 2000 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. U.S. District Court Judge Herman Weber characterized Monday's hearing as "structural" and set oral arguments for September 10.

The EPA is seeking civil penalties from AK Steel under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. The statutes allow the court to impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each day of violation before January 31, 1997, and $27,500 for each day thereafter.

The lawsuits are the result of a seven-year investigation of AK's Middletown plant by the U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Attorney General's office. Ohio will seek civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation of the clean air statutes and up to $10,000 per day per violation of the clean water and hazardous waste statutes.

Since the announcement of the lawsuits and proposed penalties, AK officials including CEO Richard Wardrop have repeatedly threatened to eliminate 2,000 jobs at the Middletown plant, in what the Steelworkers have called an attempt at "environmental blackmail" to avoid installing the required pollution control equipment.

More recently, an EPA spokesman called AK Steel "irresponsible" for publicizing the results of a study the company sponsored that seemed to contradict findings made by an earlier EPA study of Dick's Creek -- sections of which near the plant have been labeled "unsafe for fishing."

"AK Steel broke the law, then tried to force a community to choose between good jobs and a safe environment," said USWA District Director David McCall. "This company owes it to the citizens to invest in the necessary equipment upgrades and ensure that these jobs will remain in Middletown for another century."
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 10, 2001
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