Groups like Sun Coke can help build county forward

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2005

Most people have heard the naysayers time and time again. "There ain't nothing good in this county. We are dying and will never be what we were again."

Thank goodness leaders of Sun Coke Company and its parent company, Sunoco, Inc., have more vision than that and look more at what Lawrence County could be than what it was.

Earlier this week, the company showed off its new Haverhill North Coke Company plant. The $157-million, 100-oven Haverhill plant began operations in March and now produces 550,000 tons of coke.

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Coke, made by baking coal at high temperatures, is a key ingredient in making steel.

Sun Coke brought 65 jobs to the region and should be applauded for taking a chance and not settling for the status quo. Some companies would be happy to stop there and take the pats on the back.

Thankfully, Sunoco is not one of those companies. The corporation hopes to add another 100 ovens and another $175 million investment to the facility. With this expansion will come an as yet undetermined amount of jobs.

Plant officials say the facility does not just chew up Mother Earth and spit it out. From most accounts, the plant is environmentally friendly and a far cry from coke plants such as the one that used to operate in New Boston and left an environmental nightmare when it closed.

Sun Coke's air emission standards have set the precedent that other companies must now strive to meet. Plus, there is no water runoff from the plant, meaning no emissions go into the Ohio River.

Lawrence County needs companies such as Sun Coke that want to help the community grow while still being good neighbors and making a good profit. With other companies such as Duke Energy, Dow Chemical and Aristech in the same location, the stretch of land between Lawrence and Scioto counties could become an industrial hub of southern Ohio.

Rumpke Consolidated Industries Inc., is planning for a waste transfer station for the area, as well, but have been met with much opposition. The not-in-my-backyard mentality does not help the community grow.

We need to gather all the facts and then make decisions on the companies that come to call our region home. Sun Coke is proof that a little vision and good old fashioned ingenuity can go a long way.