Company official says rules could shut down plant
PARKERSBURG, WV — “New emission regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could result in the shutdown of a local ferroalloys plant, a company representative said Tuesday.
‘We don’t want to panic people, but people need to understand what’s going on,’ said Joy Frank-Collins, a spokesman for Eramet Marietta and Felman Productions of Letart, W.Va., the only two manganese ferroalloy plants in the United States and located 60 miles apart. The plants employ more than 450 people, 200 at Eramet.
The EPA released its National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Ferroalloys Production at the end of November. The rule, which takes effect in June, is similar to the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule over toxic emissions that impacted coal-fired power plants, resulting in the closure of three facilities in West Virginia, including at Willow Island.”
— Jess Mancini, News and Sentinel
Continue reading Eramet fears new EPA rule
MARIETTA — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday that he had settled a 2005 hazardous waste case with Eramet Marietta. Eramet has agreed to eliminate potential threats to public health and the environment from its 834 Crystallizer Unit. The company has submitted a hazardous waste closure plan to Ohio EPA; agreed to pay a $75,000 civil penalty to the state’s hazardous waste clean-up fund; and agreed to pay any stipulated penalties for failure to comply in the future. The spill occurred near the now shut-down “El Chrome” process.
The consent order requires that Eramet inform the public of its plan. Written comments may be sent through April 8, 2012, at Ohio EPA, Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization, Attn: Don Vogel, 50 W. Town St., P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049. The plan will be available for review at the address above by first calling (614) 644-2924 and Ohio EPA’s Southeast District Office, 2195 Front St., Logan by first calling (740) 385-8501 or (800) 686-7330.
—Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
—Kevin Pierson, The Marietta Times
MARIETTA — “Representatives of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency had some good news for Washington County and the Parkersburg-Marietta area during a public hearing at the county library Thursday.
‘We’re asking the U.S. EPA to recognize that Washington County has now attained the 1997 federal fine particulate standard, which is a good thing, as attainment can have an economic impact on the community,’ said Mary McCarron, spokesperson for OEPA.
…other local companies like Eramet work hard to reduce emissions to help meet the EPA standards.
A recent OEPA news release explained that air quality data from 2008 to 2010 shows improved air quality and indicates the metropolitan area will be able to maintain compliance with the fine particulate standard for the next 10 years.
“The data is based on computer modeling forecasts, emissions inventories, monitoring and reports that provide us with a look at what the future air quality will be in that area,” said Paul Braun, rules coordinator with the OEPA, who attended Thursday’s public meeting.
The U.S. EPA national fine particulate standard regulates tiny particulate matter, about one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair, that can be breathed in and lodge inside the lungs.
Particulate matter has been associated with health issues like heart attacks, chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks, according to the EPA.”
— Sam Shawver, The Marietta Times
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Tapping the furnace at Eramet.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. EPA is considering stronger pollution limits on the toxic air pollutants from manganese refinery Eramet Marietta Incorporated and similar sources. These emissions include manganese, lead, hydrochloric acid, mercury, nickel, arsenic, chromium, and others. The U.S. EPA has recognized that these pollutants create a high health risk for people who live within 50 km of the Eramet plant, including cancer and chronic central nervous system damage. The U.S. EPA estimates its proposal would reduce lifetime cancer risk based on actual emissions by 94%, reduce the risk of chronic effects to the nervous system by 98%, and reduce the acute health risk by 97%. This agency rule review comes after Sierra Club and legal group Earthjustice brought a lawsuit for failure to review the rule on a previously established schedule. Under the leadership of Administrator Lisa Jackson, the U.S. EPA agreed to review, propose and finalize a rule by June 2012. If approved, the new rules would go into effect by June of 2014. The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule change.
All comments must be submitted no later than this Tuesday, January 31, 2012.
- Set specific pollution limits for mercury and other air pollutants from ferroalloys sources for the first time
- Set stricter limits on emissions of metal particles
- Require enclosure of the furnace buildings to reduce the amount of fugitive emissions (leaks)
To make a comment, send an email with the subject line “Attn: Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0895 – Ferroalloys Comment”.
— Melissa English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action.
EAST LIVERPOOL — “An Ohio scientist is asking for help from families in East Liverpool and its surrounding areas for a pilot study that will determine health effects from manganese-emitting companies along the Ohio River.
Dr. Erin Haynes, an Environmental Health Scientist at the University of Cincinnati is fostering a partnership with the East Liverpool Health Board.
In a couple weeks she will begin a pilot study to determine the health effects from particles emitted from near-by companies. ‘This is in response to questions about what is the exposure to manganese and other metals in children,’ Haynes said.
Dr. Haynes is looking for 30 to 100 kids ages 7, 8, and 9 from East Liverpool and surrounding areas.
‘They will give a small sample of blood and hair. we’ll measure those for metals and their families will receive all the information back.’ Haynes said.
Dr. Haynes is currently conducting a similar study in Marietta and was interested in East Liverpool after it was mentioned in an article in USA Today which looked at air quality around schools.”
— Jennifer Baligush, WFMJ Youngstown
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EAST LIVERPOOL, OH — “A California University has received grant funding for a manganese health study in East Liverpool.
According to a press release submitted by San Francisco State University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding the funding for the a health study of adults exposed to environmental manganese in East Liverpool.
The health study is warranted based on air sampling conducted in the area, the release indicated.
San Francisco State University researcher and psychologist Dr. Rosemarie Bowler, contacted East Liverpool Health Commissioner Jelayne Dray earlier this year expressing an interest in conducting a study in the area.
Bowler will attend the Sept. 15 Board of Health meeting to present information regarding the upcoming health study, Dray said.”
— Katie Schwendeman, The Review
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Eramet marietta's rebuilt furnace
MARIETTA — At a recent meeting for its subsidiaries from around the world, Eramet featured a discussion of the good neighbor campaign that Ohio Citizen Action and Neighbors for Clean Air conducted at the Eramet manganese refinery in Marietta. The company invited me to participate in their July 20, 2011 meeting in Marietta to provide our unvarnished perspective on the campaign and the events that have followed. I described the conditions that led the neighbors to launch the campaign and provided observations of mistakes we felt the company made in its dealings with the neighbors during the campaign.
Afterward, I asked plant CEO John Willoughby what the company learned from the campaign. He told me they learned that the problem our campaign presented to them also offered opportunity, and that he learned that talk will not serve when action is required. Neighbors for Clean Air member Caroline Beidler asked at what point the neighbors stopped being enemies and started being stakeholders. Eramet spokesperson Joy Frank-Collins said neighbors were always stakeholders and it just took the right conditions for the company to take adequate actions and respond effectively.
This type of frank discussion and reflection was not always possible and represents progress since our victory in the Eramet campaign on August 30, 2008. At that time the company announced $150 million in investments to improve both the operational and environmental performance of the plant. Just two months later, the global recession began. Under the direction of former plant manager Frank Bjorklund, Eramet continued to meet with their neighbors and discuss how the new economic landscape would affect the announced improvements.
Eramet had already begun rebuilding its largest furnace, #1. Eventually, they also installed a baghouse to capture stack emissions. When all work on furnace #1 was completed, tests indicated a reduction in stack emissions of 25%plantwide. The global recession turned out to be a mixed blessing, at once both cancelling planned construction of a new, 40 MW furnace and also indefinitely idling the area of the plant from which the “Eramet smell” came. When new furnace construction was taken off the table, Eramet advanced plans to rebuild its smaller furnace #12 ahead of schedule.
In March 2009, Eramet began a process of laying off nearly 1/3 of its workforce and temporarily idled its furnaces in turn, both due to a downturn in demand and to conduct repairs and improvements. In March 2010, Eramet’s problem-plagued furnace #18 exploded, making it inoperable. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the company has yet to announce whether it will choose to repair or replace the furnace. Because of the idling of its furnaces, 2009’s Toxic Release Inventory showed significant emission reductions in all areas. To date, the plant is still not back to pre-recession production.
In addition to making progress on reducing manganese emissions and odors, Eramet has fulfilled its promise to continue communicating with its neighbors. In December 2009, members of Neighbors for Clean Air and Ohio Citizen Action board members and staff toured the plant, visiting the furnace #12 rebuilding project, inspecting work on the furnace #1 baghouse and witnessing a furnace tapping and casting operation.
— Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Manganese is emitted into local air by Eramet, on Ohio 7 outside Marietta, a manganese refinery.
MARIETTA — “There has been little research completed on the health effects of manganese, which is required at a low level in human bodies. Some studies have linked high levels to tremors or movement disorders in children.
Manganese is emitted into local air by Eramet, on Ohio 7 outside Marietta, the only manganese refinery in the U.S. and Canada.
Eramet spokeswoman Joy Frank-Collins said the plant is making efforts to reduce emissions.
‘In the past three years since we announced our vision for transformation of the facility, there has been $40 million invested in the Eramet Route 7 facility in infrastructure changes and upgrades to equipment that has improved the operational output of the facility,’ she said. ‘We have additional projects that we’re looking at on the horizon that will continue to move the plant down this path.’
She added that Eramet ‘follows closely any serious scientific study that’s conducted on products that we use and work with every day.’
Haynes has partnered with Marietta College to complete the local study.”
— Ashley Rittenhouse, Marietta Times
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CINCINNATI — “Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have created a disposable lab-on-a-chip sensor that can test levels of potentially harmful heavy metals in humans in as few as 10 minutes.
Their work, published in the August issue of the journal Biomedical Microdevices, is co-authored by assistant professor of environmental engineering Erin Haynes, who has also been studying air pollution and the effects of lead and manganese on residents in Marietta, Ohio–home to the only manganese refinery in the U.S. and Canada. (Manganese compounds are used to make steel and other products.)
Manganese is naturally ubiquitous and considered essential both nutritionally and physiologically to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Chronic exposure via inhalation, however, can cause manganism, a syndrome that can lead to difficulty walking, tremors, speech disturbances, impotence, and psychological issues.”
—United Press International
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Dr. Erin Haynes and Caroline Beidler of Neighbors for Clean Air.
CINCINNATI — “U.S. researchers have developed the first ‘lab on a chip’ sensor that can quickly detect levels of heavy metals such as manganese in humans, a report says.
Developed by University of Cincinnati scientists, the sensor will have its first field test in Marietta, Ohio, where another UC researcher is leading a long-term health study on the potential health effects of heavy metals, a UC release said Friday.
Because the sensor’s working electrode is made of bismuth instead of the more usual mercury, it is environmentally friendly…
The sensor will be field tested by UC’s Erin Haynes, who is studying air pollution and the health effects of manganese and lead in Marietta, the home to the only manganese refinery in the United States and Canada.
Tests have revealed elevated levels of manganese in Marietta residents when compared to those who live in other cities.”
United Press International
Melissa English in front of Eramet's headquarters in Paris.
CINCINNATI — “When she was on her honeymoon in Paris, Melissa English made a pit stop for work, with her new husband’s approval, of course.
She had barely officially joined the staff of Ohio Citizen Action as the Southern Ohio campaign director, though she’d been involved with the advocacy non-profit for more than a decade. The OCA’s ongoing Good Neighbor Campaign, an effort to work with business to improve the quality of life of the people in its community, was focused on a manganese refinery in Marietta, Ohio, Eramet. Eramet’s international home base just happened to be in Paris.
English, 42, laughs when she remembers the May 2007 day when she delivered documentation to Eramet. It only took about an hour out of the honeymoon, she says, and the resulting picture her husband took of her standing in front of Eramet’s HQ serves as a reminder of how much her work and life goals align.”
— Elissa Yancey, Soapbox
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PARKERSBURG, WV — “As part of a continuing effort to study the neurological effects of metals, particularly manganese, on children, the Communities Actively Researching Exposure Study (CARES), is expanding recruitment efforts into Wood County.
The study initially limited enrollment to residents of Marietta and Cambridge, Ohio, and is now extending enrollment to include Wood County residents.
The study is a collaboration between Marietta/Washington County Neighbors for Clean Air initiative, Marietta and Cambridge schools and health department officials. The study is in its second year of research in Marietta.”
— Pamela Brust, Parkersburg News and Sentinel
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MARIETTA — “Concerns over the air quality in Washington County are nothing new, but a report released this week by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency puts a number on the cancer risk associated with breathing air pollutants.
The county’s risk is quantified at 1.37 additional cancers per 10,000 people, which is above the 1-in-10,000 threshold the federal Environmental Protection Agency considers acceptable, according to the first All Ohio Air Toxics Report.
It’s a statistic that doesn’t surprise Frances Basim, who lives on Ohio 676 not far from the Washington County Career Center, where the local data was gathered from 2000 to 2009.
‘When you get up in the morning, there’ll be black spots all over your furniture. It’s just not healthy,’ said Basim, 76.”
— Evan Bevins, Marietta Times
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Melissa English, Caroline Beidler and Rachael Belz at Ohio Citizen Action's 35th anniversary party in Cincinnati. photo by Brewster Rhoads
CINCINNATI — “I learned that a woman who usually doesn’t have much more than a hundred dollars in her checking account can be a small part of something as significant as convincing an international corporation to make $150 million dollars worth of improvements to help the health of a community.
This award really is an honor. You can’t see it, but on this year’s Metzenbaum Award, next to my name is an asterisk.
This asterisk represents the very large group of people who have supported me, listened to me, mentored me, held my hand, had my back and pushed me harder than I wanted to be pushed – sometimes way outside of my comfort zone.”
— Caroline Beidler, Neighbors for Clean Air, December 4, 2010.
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EPA report found manganese levels fluctuate; more studies planned
Warren Elementary School
MARIETTA — “The final report from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study that measured air quality at three local schools has been released, but more monitoring is expected.
The study, which began in August 2009 and measured pollutants in the air at Warren Elementary School, the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center in Marietta and Neale Elementary School in Vienna, W.Va., found that all three sites had fluctuating levels of manganese that sometimes were higher than the level thought to be safe.
‘The bottom line is that it’s running above what the EPA has said is a safe level and that does give cause for concern,’ said Dick Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. ‘Part of the EPA’s conundrum is that at this point, they don’t know the effects of manganese on human health. They’ve said in the report that there is no immediate health concern, but I don’t know how they can say that because none of us really know.’”
— Kate York, Marietta Times
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