Sat., May 15, 1999
By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer
"Xerxes emission solution sought
AVON -- City officials are trying to resolve a long-standing feud over chemical emissions at the Xerxes plant before June 9, the date the dispute is scheduled to be turned over to a state review board.
At issue is styrene, a colorless chemical pumped into the air from the Mills Road plant where underground storage tanks are produced.
Though many Avon and North Ridgeville residents have complained for years that the styrene smells bad and may be a health threat, their protests intensified last year after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency gave Xerxes permission to increase production.
''I wish the EPA would stop closing their eyes,'' said one woman who lives on Mills Road after the decision was announced.
She was not alone.
Angered by the EPA's verdict, residents and city officials from both Avon and North Ridgeville joined forces and hired an attorney to appeal the decision with the state Environmental Review Board.
Since then, Maureen Brennan of the Cleveland law firm Baker & Hostetler has been compiling information and plotting strategy for her clients. She represents Avon and North Ridgeville, and Carnegie Development, which is building the massive Red Tail subdivision behind Xerxes. A separate group of 10 residents has hired Avon attorney Gerald Phillips.
The case, however, may never be heard by the state review board.
''I think it would be in the best interest of everybody to reach a settlement,'' Avon Law Director Dan Stringer said. ''These things can become very drawn out and costly.''
Already, the two cities have set aside a total of $20,000 to pay Ms. Brennan.
Stringer also pointed out that Xerxes has been in town since 1964, long before the stately homes in Red Tail were built in the shadow of Xerxes' smokestacks. ''As far as we're concerned, they're good employers,'' Stringer said. ''And they are doing business in a properly zoned area.''
Xerxes spokeswoman Pennie Shapiro was out of the office Thursday and yesterday, and no other Xerxes officials were available to comment on the dispute.
Avon and North Ridgeville officials were reluctant to comment on the case this week because of the on-going negotiations, but they have said in the past that changes could be made to the plant that would allow Xerxes to operate at full steam without increasing styrene emissions.
North Ridgeville Mayor Deanna Hill said last June that technology is currently available that could totally eliminate styrene emissions by cleaning the air in-house. At a minimum, she said the air around Xerxes should be tested frequently to ensure that styrene levels are safe year-round.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith, too, said he could not comment on the specifics of the negotiations.
''Xerxes is willing to talk and so is our side,'' he said. ''So we'll try to work something out.''
Phillips, however, said he won't be ready to discuss a settlement until he gathers more information ..."