Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

August 22, 2013

AK Steel to pay $1.65M civil penalty to settle air pollution allegations

ASHLAND — AK Steel Corp. will pay a $1.65 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of air pollution laws that occurred at its now-closed coke plant in Ashland, the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

As part of a settlement reached between the company, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the U.S. government, AK Steel will also spend at least $2 million on two projects to further reduce particulate matter emissions at its Ashland West Works facility. Kentucky will receive $25,000 of the penalty.

The settlement resolves alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, AK Steel’s Title V permit and the Kentucky State Implementation Plan, which occurred while the plant was still in operation. AK Steel closed the coke plant in June 2011 because it was no longer cost competitive because of high maintenance costs and increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

“This settlement holds AK Steel accountable for years of violations at its now closed coke plant in Ashland, said Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“As a result of the agreement, state projects to reduce particulate matter emissions at the Ashland West Works facility will continue to improve air quality for area residents for many years to come.”

“This settlement promotes a healthier environment for our citizens and represents a just resolution of this matter,” said Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “We are committed to the effective enforcement of the environmental laws designed to protect the health of our people.”

AK Steel said in a statement released Wednesday it “appreciates the cooperation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky during the settlement negotiation process that enabled a portion of AK Steel’s assessed penalty to be applied to environmental improvement projects at the Ashland Works.”

According to the same statement, AK has spent approximately $85 million between 2003 and 2012 on environmental-related capital projects in addition to $1.1 billion to operate and maintain environmental controls combined at its facilities.

AK officials did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday night. The statement also pointed out Wednesday’s settlement was made “without admission of the alleged violations by AK Steel.” 

The consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. A notice of the lodging will appear in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period before the decree is entered by the court as a final judgement.

The decree will be available for viewing at justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. The document was not immediately available.

Despite Wednesday’s settlement, AK Steel remains under an administrative order issued last fall by the EPA in regard to hazardous waste found in soil and water tested at the facility. The company has submitted a sampling and analysis plan to the EPA, which is under review.

 It is unclear if the settlement also resolves a civil investigation by the DOJ into those alleged violations. Spokeswomen for the EPA and DOJ were not immediately available Wednesday evening.

The Ashland West Works is four miles from the defunct coke plant. The 700-acre steel mill produces carbon and ultra-low carbon steel slabs, and hot dip galvanized and galvannealed coated steels. It employs more than 800.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com.

Text Only
Local News
  • Flatwoods mayoral debate set for Tuesday

    A public debate among the candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Flatwoods will take place next week.

    April 22, 2014

  • Ashland couple indicted on grave violation charges

     A man and a woman from Ashland have been indicted for allegedly stealing brass flower vases from graves at Rose Hill Burial Park.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Shore clerk gives updates on city building bids, sewer project

    City officials may not have to wait much longer to move from their temporary offices on Main Street into a shiny, new building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fate of stray animals in Carter County questioned

    Stray animals in Carter County may be disappearing because no one seems to know exactly where they are going.

    April 22, 2014

  • Recovery center finds home

    The mayor of Grayson said he isn’t concerned about the money a new recovery center will funnel into the city, although he is deeply appreciative of what the proposed facility may be able to offer “people who really need help” recovering from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

    April 22, 2014

  • Olive Hill man charged with shooting wife during dispute

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.
    Robert Tackett, 47, of Olive Hill, was lodged in the Carter County Detention Center on Monday, charged with attempted murder-domestic violence, Kentucky State Police at Ashland said.

    April 22, 2014

  • Two of three Greenup commission seats on ballot

    Two of three commission seats are up for grabs in Greenup County this fall, and both will involve primary contests to determine the ballot lineup in the November election.

    April 22, 2014

  • 0423attmurder_tackett.jpg Olive Hill man charged with attempted murder

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rotary updated on Alliance

    Ed Neely, president of the Ashland Rotary Club and chairman of the Ashland Alliance, addressed Rotarians in both capacities during the Monday meeting to give an update on the organization’s recent progress.

    April 21, 2014

  • Prater has been satisfying fans’ hunger for 40 years

    Debbie Prater has satisfied thousands of athletes’, parents’ and fans’ snacking desires for nearly 360 months.
    That’s just about 40 years of serving nachos, popcorn, chili dogs, water and soda from Lewis County’s football, basketball and baseball concession stands, and Prater is retiring after this year’s last pitch.

    April 21, 2014