Thursday, April 24, 2003

Ohio pushes for cleanup of waste at closed plant

The Associated Press

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio - State environmental regulators have asked a judge to fine or jail owners of a closed coal-processing plant to get them to follow a court order issued four months ago to clean up chemicals and other waste.

State officials on Tuesday asked Scioto County Common Pleas Judge Howard Harcha to find the New Boston Coke Corp. in contempt of court. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency asked the judge to impose fines of $250 a day for each violation and to sentence company executives to jail if necessary.

Harcha in December ordered New Boston Coke to pay $2.6 million to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for damaging the environment and threatening public health.

As part of that judgment, the company also was to clean up the site.

"There were a number of things they were supposed to do," said Mark Gribben, a spokesman for Attorney General Jim Petro. "They've failed to complete any of them."

Harcha has scheduled an April 30 hearing.

New Boston Coke, based in Troy, Mich., plans to file a written response later this week, said Paul Astolfi, a Detroit lawyer representing the company.

The plant closed in April 2002, ending 86 years of operation.

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