Madison County residents allege environmental damages after exposure to chemicals emitted from steel mill

By The Madison County Record | Nov 25, 2014

Five Madison County residents have filed a putative class action complaint against SunCoke Energy, Gateway Energy and Coke Company and U.S. Steel Corporation, saying they were driven from their homes due to emission from a steel mill in Granite City.

Peggy Keltner of 2304 Iowa St., Granite City, Jerome and Beverly Johsnon of 2426 Lincoln St., Granite City, Melinda Duniphan of 2460 Sheridan Ave., Granite City, and Shelby Siebert of 2415 Lincoln St., Granite City allege they are unable to fully enjoy the use of their properties because of suspended particulates generated by U.S. Steel.

SunCoke produces raw material, called coke, which U.S. Steel then uses to manufacture steel, according to the complaint filed Nov. 10 in Madison County Circuit Court.

During the steel mill's operation, odorous gases and total suspended particulates are produced, which are then released into the atmosphere, the suit states.

Due to the environmental threats presented by the generation of various materials, the United States Environmental Protection Agency sued SunCoke. The company settled the claim and agreed to pay a penalty of $1.995 million, plus to contribute $255,000 to the St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition, according to the complaint.

Because of the environmental concerns, the plaintiffs have experienced annoyance and discomfort, including an inability to open their windows and to breathe clean and fresh air, the suit states.

They blame the defendants for causing their injuries, saying the companies negligently failed to capture emissions of odors so they are not released into the atmosphere, failed to maintain equipment to prevent the release of odors and failed to store and transport coke properly.

In their class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege temporary nuisance, trespass and negligence against the defendants.

They seek compensatory and/or restorative damages of more than $150,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Attorney Ted Gianaris, of Simmons, Hanly and Conroy in Alton, will represent the plaintiffs.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 14-L-1540.

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