Sierra Club Victory Protects Lake Erie and Communities from Toxic Lead and Mercury
June 1, 2007
The Sierra Club has succeeded in protecting Lake Erie and its surrounding communities from massive pollution, including toxic mercury and lead. On June 1st, an Ohio State court vindicated the Sierra Club’s legal challenge of U.S Coking Group’s proposed new coke plant that would have been built on the western shores of Lake Erie. If constructed, the coke plant would pump seven million pounds of additional pollutants annually into this already heavily polluted area. The village of Harbor View, a community already severly burdened by air pollution from nearby industrial facilities, would be particularly hard-hit by this project. The governments of Canada and of the state of Michigan raised concerns about mercury emissions from the proposed plant, which has the potential to become one the largest sources of mercury pollution in the Midwest.
After winning a permit battle and appeal related to this plant, the company cut a backroom deal with the Ohio EPA and obtained a modified permit that allowed for increased mercury and lead emissions and massive increases in acid rain emissions. In response, the Club filed another legal challenge to the backroom-deal permit, and last Friday the Ohio state court vindicated these concerns. This victory served to stop the state in its tracks from making a backroom permit deal; in addition to protecting the lake and nearby communities from toxic pollution, this victory also represents a win for democratic values.
September 2, 2005
Mercury is an increasingly alarming air pollutant that makes its way into our bodies through a contaminated food chain and can cause serious neurological problems, including mental retardation and birth defects. Last year, Sierra Club went to Ohio EPA to argue for new, stringent limits on mercury pollution for a new coking plant, and racked up a small victory when Ohio decided to reduce toxic emissions by 95%. However, clearly unsatisfied with this outcome, U.S. Coking appealed the decision and threatened to move its operation out of state unless the pollution limits were seriously weakened. Now, Ohio has bowed to the pressure and issued a new permit that weakens the mercury limit and makes it a “goal,” rather than an enforceable cap. The new permit also allows the company to bypass all pollution controls and release untreated emissions directly into the air as many as 48 days every year. Sierra Club’s own appeal is still pending in the matter, and we are currently deciding our next steps to protect the local communities and the shores of Maumee Bay.
July 14, 2004
Get the mercury out. That's what the Sierra Club argued to the Ohio EPA as it opposed a permit sought by the FDS Corporation for a new coking plant in Oregon, Ohio. The company proposed to dump 680 pounds of mercury per year into the air from its new plant on the shore of Lake Erie, but due in part to successful advocacy by Sierra Club activists, the agency forced the company to reduce its emissions by 95% and to install state-of-the-art mercury monitors on the plant. Now the company has appealed to the state environmental review commission to fight the mercury limits. The Club has also appealed, and will continue to fight for even more stringent limits on pollution. The Club was joined by the village of Harbor View in appealing the permit on the side of public health and safety. “After scores of studies have confirmed the awful toxicity of mercury, especially to children and pregnant women, there is absolutely no excuse to let this private company poison the air” stated Pat Gallagher, Director of Environmental Law for the Sierra Club.
Opponents appeal Oregon coke plant permit
By Christopher D. Kirkpatrick. Toledo Blade. Published July 15, 2004
Details and Documents:
State voids East Toledo coke plant's air permit
June 2, 2007, by Tom Henry, Toledo Blade
State OKs coke plant, Envirosafe waste
September 21, 2005, by Tom Henry, Toledo Blade
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.