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.
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 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."
American Lung Association Releases List of the Nation's Most Polluted Cities - Middletown makes the Top 10 list AGAIN!
The American Lung Association released its annual report on air quality, State of the Air 2011, which includes a list of the nation’s most polluted metropolitan areas.
Go to www.stateoftheair.org to review the data.
Rankings for Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
• Ranked 16 for high ozone days out of 277 metropolitan areas
• Ranked 43 for 24-hour particle pollution out of 277 metropolitan areas
• Ranked 9 for annual particle pollution out of 277 metropolitan areas
SunCoke Watch, Inc. and the City of Monroe Win a Ruling from Franklin County Court of Appeals against SunCoke
Attached is the Franklin County Court of Appeals ruling issued on April 7, 2011. Both SunCoke Watch, Inc. and the City of Monroe independent of each other filed appeals in the Court of Appeals in response to ERAC's decision to dismiss their appeals on the first netting permit issued to SunCoke.
ERAC had dismissed those appeals on the first netting permit when the NSR permit was issued and was unwilling to state that the permit was permanently void and unable to be revived. They also were unwilling to state that the right to appeal the first netting permit would still exist if SunCoke wanted to use the first netting permit if for some reason they no longer could utilize the NSR permit. Due to these legal holes still existing, the need to appeal was necessary.
The court clearly stated that should that circumstance arise, that the right to appeal would still exist.
I was in disbelief at the latitude some have taken to justify the construction of a highly polluting coke-making facility – a facility permitted, when functioning, to emit more than 2,000 tons of pollution in the air per year – when I heard a local city official state, “You can’t get everything out of the air.” Not long after, it was reported that the noise in nearby neighborhoods was the same decibel as conversational speech or an air-conditioner — a comparison that can hardly be taken seriously,
Additionally, AK Steel spokesman Alan McCoy recently made reference to our legal fight as a “protracted and unsuccessful gambit.” The guilty parties are SunCoke and AK Steel who have used their power and money to manipulate government process at the expense of families. If the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had fulfilled its mandate, no one would have to spend time and money standing up for what the law has deemed necessary. Since it has refused to do so, the citizens have been forced to stand in the legal gap.
On the heels of the Ohio Supreme Court decision, which reversed the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision to give SunCoke a permit to produce 50 megawatts or more of electricity, Middletown Coke withdrew its application. The company would have had the responsibility to go back to the board and try to prove that the plant was sited in a way that “represents the minimum adverse environmental impact.” Given that its current location is in the midst of an elementary school, retirement village and residential area, the company must have known it would have great difficulty justifying this irresponsible decision.
Instead of meeting the legal requirement, the company is reportedly redesigning the facility to avoid their legal responsibility to the community.
MIDDLETOWN (FOX19) - The City of Monroe has won the latest round in the legal fight over the new SunCoke plant being built next to the AK Steel plant on the south end of Middletown near the Monroe border.
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Monroe, which had asked that the Ohio Power Siting Board be required to look at the environmental impact of coke production before agreeing to allow an included power plant to be built.
Read the Supreme Court ruling attached below.