SunCoke Energy Middletown Operations Issued Notice of Violation on January 24, 2012

Attached is the Notice of Violation issued to SunCoke Energy Middletown Operations.  The Violation resulted from a Compliance Specialist from the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency driving past SunCoke on January 23rd and observing fugitive dust emissions rising from the coke conveyor where the coke exists the transfer tower immediately west of Yankee Road.

SunCoke Incident Under Investigation

Since SunCoke's start-up, noise and light pollution concerns and odor complaints have been made on multiple occasions. SunCoke has now had their first formal EPA investigation following an incident on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in which residents issued complaints to the EPA regarding particulate matter falling on their property.

Mike Ploetz’s statement in the Journal today is in need of correction. The EPA hasn’t confirmed it is fly ash. Although it may be true that fly ash isn’t “hazardous” – that is a legal term that applies to particular kinds of solid waste and is not typically applied to fly ash - it is well documented that fly ash (like other forms of coal ash) is typically toxic and contains various heavy metals that can be harmful to human health. I’ve formally requested that that EPA office issue a statement to the Journal correcting this inaccurate information printed today. The public has now been led to believe by the EPA that there are no potential health risks with what has occurred, which is inaccurate.

Here is the link to the story:

Below is a link to a report from the organization Physicians for Social Responsibility that talks about the health risks from coal ash. Much of this report is focused on the potential problems with coal ash landfills, which isn’t the issue here, but this report does contain a good description of the possible contents of fly ash and why it might be unsafe.

More info on fly ash:

Is Fly Ash Toxic?

White Particles Cover Neighborhood

MIDDLETOWN (12/07/2011) — Suzann Hayes awoke last Thursday morning to the remnants of a white cloud that had dusted the yard of her Finley Street home with a fine, powdery substance.

“As it went over it was almost like it was snowing and it stuck on everything and just stayed there,” Hayes said. “It didn’t last but 15 minutes. My car looked like someone had thrown mashed potato flakes all over it.”

From the Middletown Journal. Read More

AK Steel Issued Yet Another Notice of Violation on Sept. 29, 2011

On Sept. 29, 2011, AK Steel Corporation, Middletown Works, was issued another NOV from USEPA Region 5 for violating the Clean Air Act regarding the National Emission of Hazardous Air Pollutants for Coke Ovens:  Pushing, Quenching and Battery Stacks ("Coke Oven MACT") and the Title V permit program implemented under the terms of the Act.

The NOV states "During a Section 113 conference held on September 1, 2011, AK Steel confirmed that the Method 9 visible emission observations performed by its Certified Method 9 Observers were not conducted in accordance with the opacity-reading methodology for fugitive pushing operations, as prescribed by the Coke Oven MACT."

Attached is the Notice of Violation for review.

SunCoke's First Night of Charging 60 Ovens, Saturday, October 29, 2011

Around 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, 2011, SunCoke began charging (putting coal in the ovens) in 60 of their 100 ovens.  They began pushing (taking the coke out of the ovens) on Monday, October 31st around 3:00 a.m.  The remaining 40 ovens will be charged at a later date.  The photo and video (just a few minutes of what was ongoing) shows the emissions after they began charging.  Their EPA permit allows them to emit uncontrolled emissions for their first 40 days.  SunCoke's plan is to produce during overnight hours.


Photo attached of the skyline following the beginning of the charge.

SunCoke's Middletown Operations Submits Permit Modification to OEPA - So much for "totally" enclosed conveyor belts!

On Sept. 22nd, SunCoke Energy's Middletown Operations submitted a Permit Modification request to clarify their "intent."  Seems all of the discussion over the years of "totally" enclosed conveyor belts are really just conveyor "covers" after all.  SunCoke is requesting that any reference to "total" or "totally" be stricken from the permit in regards to the enclosing of the conveyor belts. 

Ohio Environmental Council to Honor Lisa Frye at Green Gala

Kudos to SunCoke Watch President Lisa Frye, who will receive the Environmental Watchdog Award from the Ohio Environmental Council at its Green Gala on Saturday, October 22.

The annual dinner and awards ceremony will take place 6-9pm at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square, 75 E. State Street, Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets are available at If you are interested in attending as a group and helping to purchase a table, please email Suzi.

Ohio Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Middletown Zoning of Bake/Martin Farmland

On Tuesday, September 6, 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court heard the oral arguments on issues related to the rezoning of the Bake/Martin farmland by the City of Middletown.  Many of the Ohio Supreme Court justices made some VERY pointed comments to the City of Middletown's attorney, echoing concerns expressed over the last 3 1/2 years by those opposing the construction of the SunCoke facility in the middle of a school, nursing home and residential area. 

There was a similar, but different case in Blanchester, also heard before the Middletown case, which is referenced in the Middletown oral arguments.  That link is also available.



AK Steel Issued Multiple Notices of Violation by USEPA Region 5 - Most Recent on August 3, 2011

AK was just issued one of the attached Notices of Violation on August 3, 2011. Contained in the document are the following statements:

"From March, 2011 through June 1, 2011, AK Steel reported 1,556 exceedances of the twenty percent opacity limit, as a six-minute average, exiting the combustion stack at the Wilputte Battery."

"AK submitted records of Method 9 visible emissions observations conducted at the Wilputte Battery pushing operations for the period between August, 2006 and February 2, 2011. The records showed 2,390 exceedances of the twenty percent opacity limit for pushing operations read above the battery top."

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