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USW: RAVENSWOOD ALUMINUM TO BE SUED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS

 USW: RAVENSWOOD ALUMINUM TO BE SUED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS
 CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A legal notice of intent to file a citizen suit against Ravenswood Aluminum Corp. (RAC) for violations of federal environmental laws was filed today, charging that the company is illegally discharging polluted water into the Ohio River and disposing of hazardous waste without proper permits, the United Steelworkers of America (USW) said.
 Filing the lawsuit are six local residents who use the Ohio River immediately downstream of RAC. Among them is a farmer, a fisherman, swimmer, boater, water skier and landowner adjacent to the river. "The river is important to our community," said Candy Good, a water sports enthusiast and one of the plaintiffs. "We need to make sure it is cleaned up."
 Confirmation of the citizen lawsuit was acknowledged today in a statement issued by the United Steelworkers of America. The union said the notice of intent to sue was submitted to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) and Ravenswood Aluminum as required by law.
 The legal notice focuses on two major problems uncovered by USW research into RAC's operations: 1) Improper disposal of polluted waste water directly into the Ohio River and; 2) Use of a spray field to dispose of cooling water contaminated with oil, lead and hazardous solvents. Under the federal Clean Water Act, 60 days must elapse after today's notice before a lawsuit can be filed on most of the allegations.
 A Clean Water Act permit that authorized discharges into the Ohio River expired on Feb. 10, 1990. The WVDNR extended the permit for 18 months. The extension was not authorized, however, because RAC failed to submit a complete and timely renewal application. In any case, the extension expired last August. Since that time, RAC has continued to discharge pollutants into the Ohio River without any permit, the union said.
 The intent to sue notice also states that the water discharged into the Ohio in 1991 regularly contained more contamination than the expired permit allowed. The contamination levels were measured by RAC itself and reported to WVDNR, the union said.
 "This is one more example of how Ravenswood Aluminum hasn't run right since we were locked out," commented William Doyle, health and safety chairman of USW Local 5668. The company has locked out 1,700 members of the local union and hired replacement workers. An unfair labor practice charge against RAC is awaiting a decision by the National Labor Relations Board. The lockout began Nov. 1, 1990.
 The spray field technology used by RAC is known to be obsolete, and is especially inappropriate for treatment of hazardous waste. Although the solvent content of the water sprayed make the water a hazardous waste under West Virginia law, RAC has never applied for the required hazardous waste permit, the union said.
 The spray field was formerly authorized by a West Virginia permit to receive non-hazardous wastes. This permit expired at the same time as the river discharge permit. RAC also violated this permit by contaminating the groundwater under the spray field. Because the spray field is next to the Ohio, the intent notice contends, water sprayed there is effectively discharged into the river, and requires a Clean Water Act permit. RAC nevertheless continues to operate the spray field without any permit, a spokesman for the union said.
 "I am outraged to see a plant of this size allowed to operate without environmental permits," commented Norman Steenstra, executive director of the West Virginia Environmental Council. "We need strong enforcement to clean up our state's rivers. I applaud the initiative taken by these citizens, and we will do what we can to help them in court."
 -0- 3/25/92
 /CONTACT: Gary Hubbard of the USW, 412-562-2442, or Ben Ross of Disposal Safety, 202-293-3993/ CO: United Steelworkers of America; Ravenswood Aluminum Corp. ST: West Virginia IN: MNG SU:


JT-PT -- PG001 -- 1378 03/25/92 08:43 EST
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Date:Mar 25, 1992
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