Area families say there’s ‘something in the air

MIDDLETOWN — Retired AK Steel worker Bill Daley was an avid golfer and marathon runner.

But a grade 4 malignant brain tumor, discovered in January 2008, caused him to lose his peripheral vision in both eyes. He suffered seizures, brain fog, slipped into a coma for about 10 days, and slowly lost his mobility. He died Feb. 9, 2009.

Daley’s children — son, Eric, 39, of Liberty Twp. and daughter, Michelle Daley Walton, 37, now of California — struggled to make sense of what had caused this in a seemingly healthy man.

“There has to be something in the water. Something in the air,’’ they feared.

Five years earlier, one of Daley’s best friends, Greg Lansaw, died of glioblastoma brain cancer, the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer.

Then Daly’s family learned that a friend, Jeff Jewell, formerly of Middletown, was in the hospital. The diagnosis: a grade 4 glioma.

“When Jeff got diagnosed I thought there has to be something about Middletown,’’ Eric Daley said.

So did his sister, a pharmaceutical saleswoman.

Walton asked everyone on her cell, email and Facebook contact lists to send information about anyone in Middletown affected by cancer.

The response was astounding. Walton discovered 11 people in Middletown were diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer since 2004.


Court order issued granting SunCoke Watch's Motion to Intervene in ERAC proceedings

Attached is the court order signed by Judge Sheeran granting SunCoke Watch Inc.’s Motion to Intervene in the legal process challenging ERAC’s recent rulings regarding one hour hearings.

The "White-Glove Test" was not so scientific afterall!

Lisa Frye: Haverhill ‘white-glove test’ is not scientific, accurate

Guest Column - Middletown Journal, September 17, 2009

It’s now been more than 18 months since SunCoke waltzed into our community and stated they would be constructing a “state of the art,” “environmentally friendly” coking facility on the border of Middletown and Monroe.

During the planning commission and City Council meetings in Middletown, citizens from Haverhill, Ohio, provided testimony regarding how SunCoke was not the environmentally friendly neighbor they were espousing to be. Their testimony was ignored. A “white-glove test” performed by some leaders in the community — when they visited the Haverhill facility — was more than enough for them to accept SunCoke’s statements hook, line and sinker.

Kelly Graff files lawsuit against Haverhill North Coke Company/SunCoke Energy

Kelly Graff is one of the women who came to the Middletown City Council meetings and spoke regarding the issues in Haverhill which, as we all know, were subsequently ignored by those Council members.

She, along with some other family members, have now filed a lawsuit against SunCoke. She lives across a divided highway from the Haverhill coking facility. She actually lives farther than some supporters in our SunCoke Watch Inc. group would live from the Middletown Coke Company proposed site.

This lawsuit addresses many issues including the Violations and the health effects from the pollutants from this SunCoke facility - the model for the Middletown Coke Company facility.

NRDC files Motion to Intervene on behalf of SunCoke Watch Inc.

On September 16, 2009, The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a Motion to Intervene in the Ohio Court of Appeals regarding the ERAC hearing procedures issue. Currently, the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC), as a result of recent legislative decisions, is only allowing de novo hearings to be one hour - hearings which previously could last days. Several companies have filed a lawsuit and this motion is to intervene in that lawsuit.

Attached are the documents filed in the Ohio Court of Appeals.

OEPA states that SunCoke violations have no impact on compliance certification

Following is a link to a Journal article on September 11, 2009. Ohio EPA’s proposed approach would essentially render the compliance certification provision worthless, because most any plant can be made to run in compliance for at least one day no matter how bad of a compliance history they have.  The goal of OEPA seems to only be to assist SunCoke in producing a "letter" to satisfy a requirement.  This approach fails to certify that SunCoke is truly in CONSISTENT compliance and is committed to running their facilities within the confines of their permit.  A "letter" from one day hardly ensures compliance and in no way guarantees on any level a commitment to protecting the health of the community - which is what the OEPA is mandated by law to do.  Most anyone can clean up their act for a day! 

Journal article...

SunCoke certified its compliance Aug. 28, despite several seemingly unresolved notices of violation issued by the U.S. and Ohio EPAs for the company’s Haverhill North Coke Company facility in Franklin Furnace, Ohio.

However, these violations, while unresolved, would have no impact on SunCoke’s ability to certify compliance as long as its facilities were operating within regulation Aug. 28. The company only needs to prove it was following the emissions guidelines for that one day for the certification to qualify for the NSR permit. The company could go out of compliance at a facility again, but it would not affect its certification, said Heather Lauer, spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA.

“(SunCoke) needs to prove it was operating that day and was in compliance that day they certified,” she said. “It does not mean the certification is not valid because the violations have not been resolved.”


Farm owner Larry Persch borders the SunCoke proposed site

Farm owners fear coke plant arrival

Five generations of Larry Persch’s family have lived on the 50-acre farm on Niederlander Lane. It’s been a home and means of livelihood. But they fear a new neighbor 20 feet away may threaten its future.

Unlike many properties located near where a $340 million SunCoke plant could be built to supply AK Steel's Middletown Works with coke and electricity, the Persch farm has arguably been there almost as long as the steelmill. Larry said his great-grandfather bought the property in the early 1900s, around the same time the American Rolling Mills Corp., or Armco, was founded.


USEPA email verifying alleged violations with Haverhill North/SunCoke/Sunoco are unresolved

On September 11, 2009, Lisa Frye received this statement in an email from USEPA Region 5 in response to an email sent to them on 8/31/09 asking for clarification on the status of the USEPA violations against SunCoke:

“I can tell you that the alleged violations against Haverhill North Coke Company have not been resolved.”

Sunoco sent a letter to OEPA on Friday, August 28, 2009 stating they were certifying they were in compliance - a legal requirement for NSR permitting. 

This email received on 9/11/09 stating the issues have not been resolved was received 12 days after the letter was sent.


Lawsuit filed against the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) in Franklin County Court of Appeals

The Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) has taken an aggressive response to deadlines imposed by the Ohio Legislature compelling ERAC to render decisions in 339 appeals in a matter of months. It issued orders in all pending appeals canceling prior hearings and establishing an expedited hearing format that consists of the following:

• one hour hearings- split between the sides equally
• no presentation of witnesses
• five page briefs
• no meaningful discovery (depositions, document production)

Limits on the hearings were reportedly necessary to comply with new deadlines for ERAC to issue rulings, which were included in the biennial budget bill (HB 1).

The Commission reportedly took 339 cases, divided it by the number of days, minus the number of holidays, which resulted in six de novo hearings a day. Previously, average de novo hearings at ERAC lasted about five days.

The deadlines imposed in the Budget Bill were not opposed by the business community, only environmental groups sought a veto from Governor Strickland. However, now that ERAC has responded to the deadlines with its expedited hearings, businesses are scrambling to address the issue.

A lawsuit was filed in the 10th Appellate Court on behalf of over a dozen companies with forty appeals pending before ERAC. The lawsuit (called a Writ of Mandamus) seeks the Appellate Court to issue an order to compel ERAC to comply with due process requirements. The suit states:

A writ is necessary because the Commission has embarked upon a process of scheduling hearings de novo in over three hundred pending appeals that limit appellants, including the Relators, to not more than one-half hour to present evidence in support of their appeals, as more fully described below. Such a patent deprivation of Relators’ right to a hearing de novo that adheres to the most basic requirements of due process can only be adequately addressed through issuance of the requested writ.

Syndicate content