MONROE COUNCIL AUTHORIZES APPEAL OF NEW COKE PLANT PERMIT
Monroe, Ohio, February 23, 2010
Citing significant legal and technical flaws in Middletown Coke Company's recently-issued New Source Review air pollution permit, Monroe City Council has directed its lawyers to appeal the permit to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. Council's approval came at its regularly-scheduled meeting this evening.
According to the resolution approved by Council, Monroe "remains committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of itself and its citizens and will pursue actions necessary to insure that all federal and state laws and regulations are met" with regard to the coke plant.
The new permit fails to hold Middletown Coke to more stringent emission standards and pollution controls that apply to similar coke plants throughout the U.S., including Middletown Coke's own sister facility in Haverhill, Ohio. Applying those more stringent requirements to the Middletown Coke plant would further reduce the
emission of harmful pollutants by as much as 300 tons/year. "By
law, Middletown Coke must comply with the lowest achievable emission rates in the country," explained Christopher Walker, an environmental attorney representing Monroe. "You can't say this will be the cleanest coke plant in America when even SunCoke's other facilities are subject to greater control requirements."
Monroe Mayor Robert Routson added, "As a result of the efforts of Monroe and others, Middletown Coke is now subject to a New Source Review permit that reduces emissions from the coke plant by over 500 tons/year. That's a nearly 20% reduction from the emission levels in the original permit. However, we expect Ohio EPA to control emissions from the coke plant to the fullest extent required by the law. It is not acceptable to risk the health of 12,000 Monroe citizens for the sake of 75 permanent jobs."
On February 9, Ohio EPA issued a final New Source Review air pollution permit for the proposed Middletown Coke facility in Middletown. The new permit replaces a previous air pollution permit issued to the coke plant in 2008.
The new permit authorizes the coke plant to emit nearly 2,400 tons of pollutants annually into the air of Butler County, which does not meet federal air quality standards designed to protect public health. For example, the new permit authorizes the emission of nearly 400 tons of particulate matter and over 1,000 tons of other pollutants that form fine particles in the air. Butler County currently is not in compliance with the national air quality standard for fine particulate matter. Breathing air containing particulate matter at levels above the national ambient air standards increases the occurrence of cancer, respiratory disease, and lung damage. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease tend to be especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.
Monroe's appeal will be filed with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, which reviews regulatory actions of Ohio EPA.
The deadline for appeal is March 11. Monroe would not comment on the effect this appeal will have on Middletown Coke's ability to begin construction of the plant, since that question is a matter of
confidential litigation strategy. At this time, Monroe has not
determined what effect this appeal will have on its appeal of the original coke plant permit.
Middletown Coke is a subsidiary of SunCoke Energy, which currently operates coke plants in Haverhill OH, East Chicago IL, Vansant VA, and in Brazil.
For further information, please contact Christopher Walker of the Dayton office of Van Kley & Walker at (937) 226-9000.
City of Monroe, 233 S. Main St, Monroe, OH 45050, USA