Rocky Mountain Steel Mills Reaches Environmental Settlement

Amazing what a little spin can do. It can take a company from being an environmental offender (says the state of Colorado) to "one of the most ... environmentally advanced steel production operations in the world" (says Rocky Mountain Steel Mills).

Amazing what a little spin can do. It can take a company from being an environmental offender (according to the state of Colorado) to "one of the most technologically and environmentally advanced steel production operations in the world" (according to Rocky Mountain Steel Mills).

Rocky Mountain Steel Mills (RMSM), a division of Oregon Steel Mills Inc., and the state of Colorado recently negotiated a comprehensive settlement to resolve air emission compliance issues. While the facility contends it is currently in compliance with state emission requirements, the settlement resolves a pending enforcement action brought by the State of Colorado concerning RMSM''s past compliance.

Under the agreement, RMSM will voluntarily shut down one of its steel-making furnaces in order to invest roughly $20 million in a single "state-of-the-art" furnace/emission control operation that will dramatically improve the facility''s emissions, as well as have a positive impact on production levels and energy efficiency. The technology will allow RMSM to achieve particulate matter (PM) emission standards three times more stringent than the current permitted limits. It will also reduce its PM emissions by over 25 additional tons per year beyond any existing legal requirement.

"We will continue to invest in our people and in our technology," says Rob Simon, vice president and general manager of RMSM.

Since Oregon Steel Mills'' subsidiary purchased the facility in 1993, the company contends that the Pueblo mill''s emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - which are responsible for smog - have decreased by 90 percent and the mill''s total annual "release" of hazardous reportable chemicals has been reduced by 80 percent. In addition, at the time of its 1993 purchase, RMSM voluntarily committed $35 million to clean up pollution of the previous owners of CF&I.

As part of the settlement agreement, RMSM has agreed to spend $1.5 million to fund community-based environmental enhancement and educational projects in the Pueblo community.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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