The Story Untold

The Story Untold

The entire picture of the proposed Suncoke plant and how it truly will affect people - human beings - not just the dollar bill - individuals, who are the most vulnerable like children and the elderly, seem to be glossed over by some. It's not about it just being in our backyard. The mere threat of the plant has already caused damage to numerous families financially. Some need to quit being so small minded - we are way beyond that NIMBY issue. We can see beyond the dollar bill unlike some. Stories have continued to be slanted and information purposely left out that would bring to light another side of this story. If some continue to chalk up the issues to ‘NIMBY," only "a very small number" and the need for "jobs," they can strategically attempt to avoid the real issues at hand. For this reason, I offer the following additional information that has come to light over the last year since the coke plant was proposed:

One topic that continues to be ignored by some is the issue of the availability of coke. AK states they have to have this plant to survive in Middletown. That's simply not true. That's their number one option, not their only option. First of all, SunCoke built an additional 100 coke ovens in Haverhill, Ohio that have been producing additional coke since this past summer. On August 26th, 2008, I along with three other individuals from our SunCoke Watch group drove to Haverhill and toured the facility. At that time, I asked one of the spokespersons from SunCoke why AK wasn't buying any coke from them given their added coke supply availability. It was stated at that time to all four of us that AK never pursued buying coke from that facility and that other customers have now claimed that coke supply. It was further reported that AK could have bought coke from them at half the price they are purchasing it from their current source. I also was contacted by a consultant affiliated with the proposed FDS coke plant in Toledo, which is projected to begin construction in 2009. If the plant proceeds as planned, 500,000 tons of coke would reportedly be available that AK Steel could purchase from them. All permits have been obtained and they are finalizing other components of the project at this time. A former AK employee also reported that AK Steel has reduced coke production at other plants and that coke can be stored and used at least on a temporary basis.

For the record, contrary to what some are portraying, the leaders in Monroe came to their own conclusion to appeal the Ohio EPA decision. That "very small group" of us have been blamed by our Middletown neighbors for "drawing" all of the leadership in Monroe into this issue; however, SunCoke Watch has counted on no other entity to fight their battles for them. Yes, we are thankful for the efforts the City of Monroe has taken as we agree on the devastating effects this proposed plant will have on all of Monroe, but our group has filed a separate appeal through ERAC and continues to collaborate on their own with groups such as the Sierra Club, NRDC and Ohio Citizen Action. Collaboration - yes. Manipulation - no.

The Ohio EPA has issued a final permit to install, but done so without the backing of the USEPA. One of the main flaws in the permit is the use of netting, which violates the Clean Air Act. Since when does the Ohio EPA issue a permit without USEPA backing and then ask the permit holder to not construct. The answer is NEVER - until now. So, some can say the permit has been issued in an effort to condone the actions of SunCoke and Ak Steel; however, what is failed to be communicated are the legal problems with the entire permit itself. Some fail to discuss those facts.

It's been stated again recently that it's only those of us in Monroe opposing this. Shall we remind them of the 3,700 registered voters who signed two separate petition drives in the City of Middletown in opposition to this proposed site this past summer in a span of a few weeks.

SunCoke has now proposed building the coke batteries on Yankee Rd. farther away from Garden Manor Retirement Village, which houses 320 elderly residents, as a justification for supporting the proposed plant. Why does their permit address state Hamilton-Middletown Rd.? It's been rumored that this 100 ovens is the first set and that another 100 ovens would be following at some point down the road. Coal piles and railroad cars at the proposed Hamilton-Middletown end are just as unacceptable and polluting nonetheless.

Some have also failed to make any connection between the USA Today report, which listed Amanda Elementary School in the top 1% of potential toxic schools (Monroe Schools are in the top 3%) due to air quality and the additional pollution from SunCoke that would be added to an already existing problem. This is before the additional 2,800 tons of pollution would be added to our community. Funny thing, those supporting this proposed plant don't want to discuss this fact.
Jobs at any expense? Even the life of a child? Some would say indirectly that's a price we all must be willing to pay and sacrifice.

J.R. Ewing from the television show Dallas once stated "Once you give up your ethics, the rest is a piece of cake."

Many of us will never agree to do any expense...


Lisa Frye
President, SunCoke Watch Inc.