EPA wants public input on WCI furnace

LEAVITTSBURG — The Ohio EPA is seeking comment from area residents before issuing a permit to approve WCI Steel’s new walking beam furnace.

The EPA must seek public comment before approving a draft air permit from WCI because the new furnace will increase WCI’s output of chemicals such as sulfur and carbon monoxide, EPA representative Kristen Switzer said.

The public comment period will last through Tuesday and the EPA will take all comments into consideration before making a decision, Switzer said.

The EPA held a public meeting Thursday at the Warren Township Administration building but no one chose to speak; however, the EPA will also accept comments in writing.

Comments in writing should be addressed to Kristen Switzer, Northeast District Office, 2110 E. Aurora Road, Twinsburg 44087.

WCI, located on Pine Avenue Southeast, is planning to replace three slab furnaces with a single walking beam furnace fueled by natural gas and coke oven gas.

The new, $36.7 million furnace would increase the mill’s emissions of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide and decrease emissions of nitrogen oxides, according to documents from the EPA.

Draft Air Permits require that the emissions of harmful chemicals be limited.

The new furnace will increase quality and productivity while reducing operating, maintenance and energy costs, WCI officials said.

The furnace reheats the slabs after they come out of the caster so they can be rolled into coils. The new furnace will lift and move the slabs rather than push them as the current furnaces do.

The project is scheduled to be complete by January 2008.

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