Thursday, January 8, 2004

AK Steel to build fence in pollution dispute

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIDDLETOWN - AK Steel, which is fighting federal and state lawsuits alleging years of air, water and solid waste pollution, has agreed to build a fence along the banks of Dick's Creek behind Amanda Elementary School.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club allege that the steel maker has allowed PCBs - which can cause cancer and developmental disorders in children - to seep into the creek for decades. AK Steel denies those charges.

Despite the denials, AK spokesman Alan McCoy wrote a letter to the principal of Amanda Elementary in 1999, warning children to avoid contact with the creek. Now the steel maker has agreed to build the fence before spring.

Rachael Belz, director of Ohio Citizen Action in Southwest Ohio, called the fence "a beginning." Belz met in October with new AK Steel CEO James Wainscott, after requesting meetings with AK officials for years.

"I am happy that AK Steel recognizes they need to do this, but we need to be clear, this is a beginning," Belz said. "We have a long way to go before the PCB problem is solved in Middletown."

AK Steel officials did not return repeated phone calls Wednesday.


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