The first hearing, which took place on March 20, at Green Primary School in Franklin Furnace, had attendance near 800 - including members of construction trades unions in the Portsmouth area who came to show their support for the plant, which reportedly would require 1,000 construction workers to build. Green Local School District officials also attended, concerned the district might not get new tax revenues from the plant if the county commissioners give deep tax abatements to the company as an incentive to build here. The issue of jobs and tax abatements were not permitted on that meeting's agenda, as it only pertained to the issue of EPA draft permits for wastewater and air discharges.
The EPA had its second public hearing at Green Primary School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, with a much lower attendance than last month's hearing - only about 30 people. The issue of this most recent meeting was the impact New Steel would have on local wetlands.
According to the EPA, a wetland is described as an area that is inundated or saturated by surface or ground water often enough to support plants adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.
During the presentation, the EPA identified 17.88 on-site acres of wetlands and 10,804 linear feet of on-site streams that would be affected by the development.
After the presentation, the meeting was opened for questions and comments from the public, which would be added to the official record for the EPA to consider. Nobody stood with any questions or comments, and the hearing ended at 6:30 p.m.
For those who could not attend the meeting, the EPA will accept written statements to its official record through Tuesday. Those can be mailed to Ohio EPA-DSW, Attn: Permits Processing Unit, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town St., Ste. 700, PO Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049. Comments also can be placed to Patti Smith at the Ohio EPA, at (614) 644-2745, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please reference SWIMS number 073246/073247.
In addition to being approved by Ohio EPA, the permit also must be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.