On July 27, Ohio EPA issued a draft major source Permit to Install to Middletown Coke Company. The new permit confirms the City of Monroe's claims that an earlier permit, issued in November of 2008, did not meet legal requirements to protect the public and the environment. Yet Monroe officials are awaiting legal review of the new draft permit before commenting on its adequacy.
"We are glad to see that Middletown Coke and Ohio EPA are heading down the correct permitting path," said Monroe Mayor Robert Routson. "But this is a complex permit, and we just received it. We'll have to wait and see whether it adequately protects the public and the environment."
The Middletown Coke plant, which is being constructed near the AK Steel Middletown Works, will emit 1,152 tons/year of sulfur dioxide, 483 tons/year of nitrogen oxides, and over 400 tons/year of particulate matter. Given those levels of pollutants, Monroe says that the coke plant is a "major stationary source" that is subject to tough pollution control requirements under the federal Clean Air Act. The Ohio EPA permit issued in November of 2008 did not include those requirements. Monroe appealed that permit to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. Monroe also filed a federal lawsuit to halt construction of the coke plant until Middletown Coke complied with the Clean Air Act.
EPA's new draft permit states that the Clean Air Act "major source" requirements apply to the coke plant. Christopher Walker, the Dayton environmental lawyer representing Monroe, says the new draft permit shows that Monroe's previous claims had merit. "EPA's new statement that the coke plant is a major source of air pollutants is a significant change in position," said Walker. "It's unfortunate that Monroe had to go to court to get us to this point."
Walker is cautious about whether the new permit meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act. "Based on our initial review, we see some significant gaps in the new draft permit," stated Walker. "We'll be reviewing the draft permit in more detail in the coming weeks, and will provide written input to Ohio EPA."
For further information, please contact Christopher Walker of the Dayton office of Van Kley & Walker at (937) 226-9000.
Source: City of Monroe, 233 S. Main St, Monroe, OH 45050, USA
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