Newspaper Record of the Styrene Problem in Avon

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS, 11-4-98, By JoAnne Easterday

"Appeal of EPA permit to Xerxes in the works

AVON -- The city is considering waging a battle with the Environmental Protection Agency concerning their permit issued to Xerxes to allow for additional production and thus causing residents to put up with the odor of styrine, perhaps in greater concentration.

The permit was issued Oct. 15. According to Maureen Brennon, a lawyer with the Baker and Hostetler law firm in Cleveland, the date for filing an appeal is Nov. 15, which she said is a "drop dead date."

Council members were forced to wrestle with the idea of arranging for the initial fee of between $3,000 and $5,000 to begin the complicated, technical preparations necessary to make the appeal.

That fee allows Brennon to "lay out all technical and procedural statements." The statements must include all areas that will be covered in a more expensive discovery and trial phase that may come later.

Avon Law Director Daniel Stringer said he did not have the expertise to represent the city in this type of trial.

Brennon said the permit legitimizes the machines at Xerxes that are already there. "The likelihood of taking them out is virtually zero," Brennon said.

The attorney said that a court would have the presumption that the EPA had done the right thing in issuing the permit. The city would be entering a situation where the playing field is not level.

Brennon said, "You have to prove that the EPA is wrong. The the agency made a mistake."

The court if they found for the city would then turn the process back to the agency and the agency would rewrite the permit.

Xerxes convinced the agency that being required to put in pollution control devices would be too costly, Brennon said.k The company said they would control the amount of pollution by limiting production.

Brennon said the city would have to prove that the company was misleading or deceitful in their presentation for the court to reconsider the situation.

Ultimately the cost of waging a battle could run between $75,000 and $100,000. Brennon said.

Council will decide next Monday how to proceed. They will also consider contacting officials in North Ridgeville and the nearby developers of residential properties to commit to the court fund. ..."


"Xerxes battle won't go up in smoke

AVON -- City Council voted unanimously Monday to hire a lawyer to appeal the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's decision to allow Xerxes Inc. to release a chemical from 18 emission units at a time.

The city will pay environmental lawyer Maureen Brennan of Cleveland $2,500. In addition, North Ridgeville City Council is expected to approve the same amount at its 6 p.m. meeting today.

The appeal must be filed by Saturday with the Ohio EPA's Environmental Review Appeals Commission.

Residents of Avon and North Ridgeville have complained of the odor of styrene released from the plant. An excessive amount can cause eye irritation.

Xerxes, of 34250 Mills Road, uses styrene to produce large fiberglass tanks for underground storage of gasoline.

The emission units are areas where styrene, a clear chemical, is released from vents into stacks outside the plant.

Until recently, the company was allowed to use as many as 17 of its 20 emission units at once.

State Rep. John Bender, D-Elyria, was at the meeting Monday to voice his support for the appeal.

"I'm delighted that Avon is going forward with the appeal,'' Bender said. "We'll wait and see what North Ridgeville votes to do tonight.

"The biggest thing people need to know is that they can register a complaint with the Ohio EPA. The more complaints they receive, the better.''

Bender said people could call the Ohio EPA at (330) 963-1200, (614) 644-2160 or (800) 686-6330, Ext. 288, to complain about Xerxes.

North Ridgeville resident Terry Keenan, who has lived on Jade Circle since 1989, also was at the meeting to support the appeal.

Keenan and his wife, Lisa, said the smell coming from the plant has been especially bad since 1994.

"I'm not sure if Xerxes is releasing more styrene, but it's been a steady smell for a long time,'' Terry Keenan said. "The smell is at the front door when we get home, and sometimes, it creeps into the kitchen. ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE SUN, 11-19-98, By CHANEL CHAMBERS, Staff Writer

"Cities appeal Xerxes decision

NORTH RIDGEVILLE -- In an unusual move of cooperation, the cities of Avon and North Ridgeville took decisive action against fiberglass manufacturer Xerxes Corp.

Both city governments decided to split the $5,000 cost to appeal an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency decision that allows Xerxes to emit more pollutants into the air.

The appeal was filed Friday by Maureen Brennan, attorney with the Cleveland firm of Baker and Hostetler. Brennan was chosen for her expertise in handling environmental cases.

The 15-page permit from the Ohio EPA was given to Xerxes on Oct. 15.

According to Ohio EPA environmental supervisor John Curtin, the plant had been operating without a permit since it moved to Avon from North Ridgeville in 1993. The company had installed 10 pieces of fiberglass spray-up equipment in the Avon plant, and had not applied for a new permit.

"Whenever you change locations, you need to get a new permit to install," Curtin said.

The company filed for the new permit in 1994, but did not receive it until this year, due to several exemptions sought by the company. Curtin said the extended time period was "much longer than normal."

Xerxes had to show the EPA that it was not cost effective for the company to control styrene emissions before the agency would allow it the exemption. According to Ohio law, if a polluting corporation shows it cannot afford to comply with emissions standards, and the emissions pose no immediate risk, the corporation can be exempted from the rules.

At issue with residents of the two cities is the plant's production of an unpleasant-smelling chemical, styrene.

Residents have complained since the plant changed locations about strong odors coming from the plant. The plant raised its smokestacks in 1994 in an attempt to decrease ground-level concentrations of the chemical.

Residents have claimed the pollutant caused health problems ranging from headaches and nausea to premature births.

Although EPA rules state that styrene emissions are limited to 8 pounds per hour or 40 pounds a day, Xerxes was granted a permit to emit 25 pounds of styrene per hour or 170 pounds per day.

Curtin stressed that the concentration of styrene in the Xerxes case is not high enough to cause health problems.

"The permit is supposed to be protective of human health," he said.

The highest acceptable styrene concentration in the air, according to Curtin, is 5 milligrams per cubic meter. He said Xerxes isn't even capable of emitting that concentration of the chemical, since the plant's total output capacity is slightly less than 3 milligrams.

Curtin said Xerxes has an annual styrene emissions limit that basically is the same as what the plant had been doing before.

"Even though, on an hourly basis, they can emit more, on an annual basis they're not going to be able to emit any more," he said. "On an annual basis, it's about the same."

Since Xerxes' production is "sporadic," the company should be able to work within the new limits, he said. ...

"The company has done everything asked of it by the Ohio EPA," said Penny Shapiro, Xerxes spokesperson."

Styrene Problem


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