SunCoke Settlement Proposed: Residents Near Controversial New Ohio Plant Win Big Health and Safety Concessions
MIDDLETOWN, OH (May 8, 2012) – Residents in Middletown and Monroe, Ohio who have been fighting a new coke plant illegally sited near their neighborhoods, an elementary school and a nursing home are on the verge of winning major concessions from backers of the project. SunCoke Energy, AK Steel, the Ohio EPA, and other parties to the case have agreed to an array of environmental and safety alterations to the Middletown facility in a proposed settlement to a suit brought by SunCoke Watch, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the neighboring City of Monroe.
“We are far from thrilled with our new neighbors,” said Lisa Frye, President of SunCoke Watch, whose property is adjacent to the new plant. “And we are not exactly happy about this settlement, because this massive, polluting plant never should have been allowed to open so close to Amanda Elementary School and Garden Manor Nursing Home – not to mention our neighborhoods and families. But now that the coke plant has been built, this settlement agreement would start to address many of the burdens that we live with day in and day out.”
Attached is another Notice of Violation issued on February 29, 2012. This the fourth malfunction or NOV that has occurred since SunCoke began operation on October 30, 2011 - Five in four months!
The National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide is 75 parts per billion averaged hourly. The concentrations documented on the EPA website are high one hour averages. Units are parts per billion. SunCoke Exceeded the limits on March 2nd and 3rd - limits were 156 and 133 for those days.
On Channel 9 news on February 16, 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.
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:
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.
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.