MMK subsidary applies for air permit in Scioto County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

A subsidiary of the Russian steel company negotiating with the state to build a plant in Scioto County has issued an air permit application to the Portsmouth Local Air Agency.

Melissa Fazekas, Deputy Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said New Steel International, Inc., of Franklin, filed the application Thursday.

“It’s called a Permit To Install or a PTI,” Fazekas said. “It’s essentially the air permit application.”

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The parent company, Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works - or MMK - has been negotiating with the state for several months on the project, which MMK Chairman Victor Rashnikov estimates at more than $1 billion.

He visited the Haverhill site last month and said the company is also considering a site in Quebec, Canada. He said the plant would employ 500 in the beginning phase, but did not comment on the number of jobs that could follow as the development progresses.

But Fazekas warned that just because the company filed an application doesn’t mean the company has definitive plans to build on the Haverhill site.

“Just because they filed an application doesn’t mean it’s a done deal,” she said. “We’ve had companies go through the entire process and the decision was made not to build in an area.”

The issuing of environmental permits is a required step before the company can build on the site. Fazekas said the application was signed by New Steel International, Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Apgar. She said the company has not filed a water permit and it is not clear if the company will be required to do so.

Fazekas said the air permits application outlines emissions estimates and other aspects of the company’s operations.

Gov. Ted Strickland was part of last month’s site tour and said he wanted Rashnikov to get a first-hand look at the advantages of the Haverhill location.

“We wanted to show this company what we had to offer in terms of land, infrastructure, the mighty Ohio River, rail, highway, access to power and all the things that make the Haverhill site so potentially attractive,” Strickland said. “This is not an announcement of an agreement, it’s one step of the process that could lead to a significant announcement at some later time.”

According to its Web site, New Steel International, Inc. was founded in 1999 “by a group of professionals who have built their careers by providing superior consulting (and) engineering services to the heavy industrial ferrous and non-ferrous metals sector.”