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Pig iron plant coming to Ashtabula raises environmental concerns from neighbors

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 19:05:17-05

ASHTABULA, Ohio — A new pig iron plant coming to Ashtabula is now raising environmental concerns with some in the area.

Ann Rapose is one of several who wrote letters to commissioners for fear that the river in town could revert back to the days of heavy pollution.

Back in the 60s, coal plants in the area caused heavy pollution in the water.

“Smokestacks were spewing. There were odors. Things were going into the water. You couldn’t eat the fish or swim in the lake," Rapose said.

Make no doubt, she is all for change, but she's writing to commissioners asking developers to proceed with caution.

She's trying not to make a big splash, she can't help but wonder if history will repeat itself.

“I know it’s the beginning of growth spurt, and I’m hoping it will be a good thing," Rapose said.

The Environmental Protection Agency had its first public hearing earlier in December about the $474 million plant a South African company is looking to build.

Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere had several questions regarding environmental concerns.

"It took us five or six years to get the river off the 'watch' list," he said.

According to Timonere, officials with the EPA said they aren't seeing anything that would pose as a "significant health risk".

The plant will bring in close to 650 new jobs, and the plant will bring in 100 permanent high-paying jobs. Petmin USA would build the plant at the Kinder Morgan Pinney Dock facility, and it is expected to produce about 425,000 tons of pig iron every year.

Pig iron is used in a multitude of things, like trains, toys, hydrants and medical equipment.

Timonere is still waiting on the air permit from the EPA, but said construction will start next summer. The plant is expected to be completed two years after construction begins.