AK Steel hosts community meeting, address concerns of Dearborn residents

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — AK Steel representatives discussed its operations, environmental and community efforts in Dearborn at a community meeting May 18 at Salina Elementary School, 2700 Ferney.

AK Steel Environmental Affairs General Manager Dave Miracle said that for 2017 the company would like to post a permit deviation of 12 or under and a zero posting is not realistic because other factors play a role.

“There are human beings running equipment so its human nature that something can go wrong causing a incident,” he said. “We can keep training, invest in equipment and maintaining pollution levels. We’ve gone from 13,163 deviations in 2014 to 25 deviations in 2016.”

A permit deviation is defined as “any occurrence that results in an excursion from any emission limitation, operating condition, or work practice standard as specified in either a Title V permit, state permit to operate or temporary permit issued by the division,” according to des.nh.gov.

Miracle also said that last year AK Steel invested $10 million in air pollution control and are planning to invest $15 million in 2017 for the same cause.

Since AK Steel completed its $707 million acquisition of Severstal Dearborn in September 2014 it has put an emphasis on community outreach for residents.

During the meeting, AK Steel Litigation, Labor and External Affairs Vice President Renee Filiatraut said an employee outreach program encourages employees to make a difference.

“They get out and do work with the charity or organization of their choice by volunteering,” she said. “Some of them donate to the Salvation Army, winter clothes donation to shelters, over 13,000 pounds of food to local food banks and reading to students at Salina during reading month.”

She also stated that AK Steel sets aside part of its funds to donate to local organizations that have a track record of having an impact or making a difference.

Some of the organizations listed were ACCESS, Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters Dearborn/Dearborn Heights, Yemeni American Association, Salina Intermediate School and more.

Filiatraut said AK Steel is making an effort to develop apprentice programs to attract local employees to work at the company.

“We recently held a job fair at Salina that had 300 attendees which untimely resulted in 100 applications being submitted for jobs,” she said.

Throughout the meeting questions were taken from residents in attendance who were most concerned about air pollution, providing air filters, AK Steel’s standards and nurse staffing at Salina.

AK Steel installed air filters at the school which were praised at the meeting by school employees.

Filiatraut was then asked if a nurse is available four days a week at Salina yet which was part of an agreement with the city council.

“We are sorting out the details with the city of Dearborn and Beaumont Health,” she said. “It is something we are still planning to do at the school.”

In reference to standards, Miracle said AK Steel sets strict environmental, operations, quality and accident prevention goals which change each year to become tighter.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)