Two environmental groups are seeking to become plaintiffs in the federal EPA and State of Ohio''s lawsuit against AK Steel for numerous violations of the Clear Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a motion to intervene with Judge Herman J. Weber in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, so as to join the environmental battle.
"We want to join this case to make sure that the people breathing this air and drinking this water are heard. The complaints filed by the EPA and State of Ohio tell the facts of the case, but there''s nothing like hearing from the residents what it''s really like to live with this pollution day after day," said Marilyn Wall, conservation chair of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club. "We heard story after story of people waking up to find their cars covered in soot, and houses needing to be sprayed down frequently to get rid of the black dust."
The U.S. Justice Department, on behalf EPA, filed its complaint against AK Steel on June 29, 2000.
Charges include 204 specific violations of air, water, and hazardous waste laws. The State of Ohio became an intervening plaintiff, the status the Sierra Club and NRDC are now seeking, on July 9, 2001.
Specific allegations against AK Steel include:
- The illegal discharge of PCBs into Dicks Creek
- Numerous chemical spills, at least two of which caused fish kills
- Failing to control emissions of particulate matter
- The illegal release of hazardous waste into the environment, including cyanide, waster water, zinc, lead, benzene, waste acid, among other toxic materials
"We want to do everything we can to make sure that AK Steel is held accountable in what is one of the most serious cases of pollution and environmental damage in Ohio''s history, and that a just and fair settlement can reached," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., staff attorney at NRDC, a national environmental group with 12,000 members in Ohio.
Next Monday, Sept. 10, Judge Herman Weber will preside over a hearing on AK Steel''s motion to dismiss portions of the cases brought against them by the federal and state governments.
by Virginia Foran