Boy did Continental Carbon’s Ponca City facility screw up! Ponca City officials said this week they plan to file a lawsuit against the Houston-based company.
Some folks think Continental Carbon may have screwed up when they locked out workers for 3 1/2 years for not agreeing to some changes in compensation.
Before the May 8, 2001 lockout, Continental demanded wage cuts, 300 percent-500 percent increases in health insurance premiums, cuts in vacation and overtime pay and cuts in pay for time that workers—covered head to toe with carbon at shift’s end—need to clean off. The firm demanded cuts totaling $15,000-$20,000 per worker per year, PACE said then.
But those were just union workers.
Others think it was when the company ignored complaints from residents living near the plant.
Continental Carbon’s operations forces carbon black dust down the throats of its workers while spewing it into the air and onto the little Ponca housing addition and other nearby neighbors. The trees and grass are black. The houses are covered with black soot. The black dust settles inside the houses on furniture and food. Clothes hung on the clothesline become gray with this soot. Farmers say the tongues and mouths of their livestock are black from chewing the grass coated with carbon black soot. Little toddlers come in from playing outside, their sweaty little faces, hands and smiles black and sooty.
Documentation shows that since the 1960s the Ponca Tribe and nearby non-Indian farmers have complained to the state of Oklahoma about the pollution.
But those were just farmers and Indians.
Still others believe it may have been when they embarrassed Oklahoma DEQ officials who had been trying to avoid the controversy.
Attorney Michael C. Bigheart, announced the filing of the Civil Rights Complaint on August 25 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It charges the state agency, which receives federal funds, with discriminatory permitting and enforcement practices in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “These discriminatory practices allow for pollution and health risks that DEQ officials would never tolerate in their own communities,” he said. The DEQ has even stopped sending investigators to respond to citizens’ pollution complaints, he added.
But that was only a state agency influenced by
company sympathizers elected officials.
No. Where Continental Carbon screwed up was when they started fouling up parts of Ponca City where respectable folks live and breathe.
Residents near the plant have complained for years about the soot, but a recent rise in complaints from people living inside the city prompted the action, city officials told local reporters.
“It’s time to stop this mess on Ponca City,” Mayor Dick Stone said Tuesday, according to a report by the Daily Oklahoman newspaper.
Yep, it’s finally time to do something. I take that back. It’s past time.