Friday, November 5, 2004

Business digest

Environmental officials talking with AK Steel

AK Steel disclosed Thursday it is in settlement talks with Kentucky environmental officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over environmental compliance at two of its plants. AK said it expects to reach a settlement of both claims that won't have a material impact on financial results.

On Sept. 15, the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation over improper off-site disposal of material from AK's Ashland Works. The company said it is investigating but believes it has a legal right to dispose of the unidentified material based on its reuse.

On Oct. 8, the company said its Mansfield, Ohio, mill received a notice of noncompliance from the Justice Department based on a 1997 EPA inspection. The notice alleges Clean Water Act violations of permitted pretreatment and effluent limits. AK said it would contest any claims that aren't resolved in either settlement talks.

Employees sue Grace over sale of stock

Employees of W.R. Grace & Co. have filed a class-action lawsuit against the chemical company, alleging that the sale of Grace stock from employee retirement accounts cost them $40 million in lost profits.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court in Covington by Cincinnati lawyers Stan Chesley and Jim Cummins, says Grace - at the advice of investment firm State Street Bank & Trust of Boston - forced employees to sell their retirement shares at a distressed price of $3.50 apiece in early 2004, just before the shares tripled in value. Two current employees and one former employee of the Grace Davison plant in Bond Hill filed the suit. Grace, based in Columbia, Md., could not be reached for comment Thursday.

$6 million investment in brewery considered

Boston Beer Co., which brews Samuel Adams and other beers at the old Hudepohl-Schoenling plant on Central Parkway in the West End, said it is contemplating a $6 million capital investment at the brewery. The Boston-based company said Thursday that an expansion would increase the production capacity of its Cincinnati Brewery by a third, or 200,000 barrels. The operation, which employs more than 100 people, already accounts for half of Boston Beer's total output. The company said it would announce its decision on the project sometime this quarter.

Delta's on-time rate among worst in nation

Delta Air Lines had an on-time rate of 77 percent in September, ranking the Atlanta-based airline second-worst among the nation's 19 largest carriers, according to Transportation Department statistics released Thursday.

The airline, which operates its second-largest hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, also was one of the hardest hit by the hurricanes that ravaged the East Coast during that month, especially at its hub in Atlanta.

Delta's Erlanger-based regional subsidiary Comair saw its planes land within 15 minutes of schedule 82 percent of the time, good for 14th on the list. The national average was 83.9 percent.

The on-time arrival rate at the local airport was 86.1 percent, which ranked 12th out of the nation's 31 busiest airports.

Brake cleaner recalled for defective valve

Some 2.8 million aerosol cans of brake cleaner and brake-parts cleaner sold by Ashland Inc.'s Valvoline unit are being recalled, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday. The recall involves 13-ounce cans of Pyroil Non-Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner and NAPA Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner sold between March and September. The commission said it has received nine complaints of a defective spray valve that can empty the can's flammable contents. One incident involved a consumer sprayed in the eye. Consumers should stop using the recalled cans and contact Valvoline for a free replacement. Call Valvoline at (800) 255-3533.

Viacom may try to buy all of MarketWatch

NEW YORK - Viacom Inc., owner of Paramount's Kings Island and several local radio stations, said Thursday it expects to make an offer to buy the remainder of financial information and news provider MarketWatch Inc. that it does not already own.

Viacom shares rose 32 cents to close at $37.39 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wire/staff reports

Federated forecast rosier
253 houses, 300 condos coming in Fairfield Twp., Harrison
Gutter-lid suppliers slug it out in court
Opportunities at the Exchange
Bush agenda, oil revive markets
Fatter fliers add to fuel cost
Railroads run fast to meet demands
Wachovia to pay $37M in merger suit
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