No Union Presence at Monroe City Council Meeting

Following is a quote from a Middletown Journal online article on 2/23/10 prior to the Monroe Council meeting on 2/23/10. Although Corbin stated there are 100 members of the trade council living in Monroe and that many would attend the meeting - NOT ONE WAS IN ATTENDANCE - just setting the record straight!

“Since the Ohio EPA said this is the most stringent permit they have ever issued, Monroe’s argument against the plant “is the biggest mystery,” and this latest move is “depressing” since it may well put the project in jeopardy again, said Gary Corbin, Butler County Building and Construction Trades Council executive secretary and treasurer. Members of the trades council would fill the 500 temporary jobs the company would hire to build the plant.

“I find it hard to believe that they are going to come in there and spend another several thousand dollars to fight this thing when they can’t really have the money,” Corbin said.

About 100 members of the trades council are Monroe residents, and Corbin said many will attend tonight’s council meeting.

“A good deal of them would be working at that job,” he said.”

The above are the exact statements in the online article prior to the Council meeting; however, the statement about the trades council being in attendance is no longer included in the article linked below (it has been updated since the meeting). The Journal has not reported that NO ONE was in attendance. Rather than update the facts as to what actually happened, the statement has been removed.


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."

Chuck Inwood Challenges Middletown Journal Editorial on 2/21/10

I’ve just finished reading the editorial in Sunday’s Journal, “Monroe leaders should end costly SunCoke battle.” The editorial writers have either not been paying attention or are simply continuing to demonstrate their bias on this issue.

The editors seem to forget SunCoke has had a valid permit, the “netting” permit, since November 2008. They could have started construction any time since then. Any flaws found in the recently issued New Source permit would be no more protected from the appeals process than the flaws in the earlier netting permit. Certainly the Journal doesn’t believe that SunCoke should be above the law and that any flaws in the new permit should be ignored. After the numerous problems found in the netting permit, certainly the editors will understand if we have little confidence in the Ohio EPA.

The Journal is supporting a company, SunCoke, who is currently listed as a High Priority Violator by the United States EPA. SunCoke’s Haverhill facility in Franklin Furnace, Ohio is the model for the proposed facility in Middletown. That facility has been issued numerous notices of violation including a violation in December. None of these violations have been resolved. SunCoke-Haverhill is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by neighbors for past and continuing pollution problems. Certainly the Journal is aware of these matters, yet you continue to support this corporate scofflaw in the name of economic development.

One of the provisions of the new permit is SunCoke must be “in compliance” at all of their facilities in Ohio. The Ohio EPA has interpreted this to be in compliance at a single point in time of the applicants choosing. This is like me saying I can drive 90 miles an hour down I-75 and that I get to choose the point in time when the Highway Patrol gets to clock my speed! Pretty sweet deal for me but I’m not sure what it means for the safety of those around me!

OEPA issues SunCoke New Source Review permit on February 9, 2010

Despite verified unresolved Notices of Violation, which still exist with SunCoke's Haverhill North Coke Company, the Ohio EPA issued the New Source Review permit stating that this new NSR permit will supercede the previous permit issued in November, 2008.

..."both the governor and Chris Korleski, director of the Ohio EPA, said they believe monitoring at the local facility will protect against similar issues and the state will enforce compliance requirements."

The question still remains...why should we expect any different behavior in Butler County when SunCoke is considered a "high priority violator" by the USEPA?


Federal judge rules Ohio EPA violated Clean Air Act

A federal judge has ruled that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has violated the Clean Air Act for more than three years.

Magistrate Mark R. Abel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled yesterday that the Ohio EPA has given small businesses permission to pollute the air.

The decision reverses a 2006 state law that let businesses use less than the "best available" scrubbers and filters if they emit less than 10 tons of air pollution a year.

The Sierra Club sued, arguing that the change would worsen air pollution problems across Ohio. It also said the law violated a provision of the Clean Air Act that orders Ohio and other states to show how any rule changes would not worsen air pollution.

Read more

Click on the attachment to read the federal court order in the Ohio EPA case.

Time Has Revealed the Truth - Middletown Journal Guest Column (1/31/10)

It was two years ago (February ‘08) when the story about the proposed SunCoke facility hit the Middletown Journal, along with the plan for the City of Middletown to rezone the Bake and Martin farmland to accommodate SunCoke and its partner AK Steel. In the months and now years following this announcement, the monotonous rheteric we’ve continued to hear is that this plant would be “environmentally friendly” and “state of the art” with SunCoke boasting about their honorable record at their plant in Haverhill, which has been used as the model for the proposed plant in Middletown. We heard the need for “emergency” legislation since the facility HAD to be up and running no later than December, 2009 since AK would need the coke and communicated to the community that this was their only option to meet that need (at least it was the message they seemed to consistently send to the community.)

Boy how time has revealed the truth – not fictitious story telling – we’ve heard.

Let’s just set the record straight…

First of all, the fact that its now January 2010 and SunCoke has yet to begin construction on their facility and do hold a permit in hand to do so brings question as to what their purpose for “emergency” actually was. Typically, emergency indicates immediacy, timeliness or necessity. Not in this case! Many contend the “emergency” legislation maneuver was to block any referendum vote that could have potentially been initiated by the people at that time. One must ask the question – if the legislation had to be “emergency” and SunCoke has had the first “netting” permit-to-install since November, 2009 with no legal entity telling them they can’t construct, why are they not constructing? Yes, the “netting” permit is being legally challenged in ERAC, but SunCoke has not been told they can’t construct in a court of law. Could it be that SunCoke knows they may have a legal problem and aren’t willing to roll such expensive dice?

Haverhill North Coke Company issued another Notice of Violation on 12/11/09

Attached is another Notice of Violation issued to SunCoke’s Haverhill North Coke Company on December 11, 2009.

Not only did SunCoke exceed the requirement that waste gas emissions not be vented to the HRSG bypass vent stacks for more than 192 hours per rolling 12-month period per stack by 19.2 hours and 58.7 hours, but they also violated the requirement that the activated carbon injection system be operating at all times when one or more associated ovens are operating in a manner that will maximize the removal efficiency for mercury. The activated carbon system was not in operation for approximately 78 hours and 43 minutes.

Native American artifacts found on Martin farmland - site of proposed SunCoke plant

During extensive archaeological digs on the Martin farmland, which seem to have been occurring over the last year or so, through what appears to have been three separate phases of investigation, two sites have been deemed eligible for the National Register based on the archaeological evidence found. Two articles in the Middletown Journal, the most recent being printed on 1/23/10, summarizes some facts surrounding items found being dated back to 8,000 B.C.


Director's Status Report (on NSR draft permit) issued on behalf of the Ohio EPA

Attached is a statement issued by the Ohio Attorney General's Office on behalf of the Ohio EPA regarding the status of the draft NSR permit following a request made by the ERAC Commission. It is reported that "At this time, Ohio EPA is unable to state with specificity when, if at all, a final NSR permit will be issued. Ohio EPA is in the process of responding to comments and questions from U.S. EPA regarding the permit." This Status Report was served to all involved parties on December 16, 2009.

Testing for toxics at schools sparks questions, lawsuits

Across nation, controversies brew over possible toxic emissions

This is a USA Today article from 9/14/09, in which the SunCoke battle in Middletown, OH is listed as one of the three legal disputes across the nation being discussed.

..."The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency last year granted SunCoke Energy a permit for the plant, which would make the coal-based fuel that melts iron ore for steel mills. State officials have endorsed the plant, saying it is needed to supply an AK Steel mill that employs 2,000 people in a town hard-hit by the recession. A neighboring town, local activists and national environmental groups oppose the plant, saying it is a threat to public health. The plant would be built next to Amanda Elementary School, a nursing home and a residential neighborhood."

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