NEW YORK: Is that a steel knife in the back?

Despite their complaints about imports, U.S. steel corporations continue to lead the pack as the largest users of imported steel. Their increased use of imported steel this year will make total imports higher than they were last year.

The American Institute for International Steel (AIIS) reports that U.S. steel corporations imported about 9 million tons of semifinished steel in 2002, up 40 percent from 6.4 million tons in 2001 and a record high.

Total steel imports, with finished steel products like cars topping the import list, reached 32 million tons in 2002, up 6 percent from 30.1 million tons in 2001.

The U.S. consumes about 100 million tons of steel per year, mostly by the auto industry.

STEELE, Ala.: Life on a land mine

Ever since an unexploded shell containing a potentially deadly chemical agent turned up in a pasture next to Debbie and Paul Duncan’s home, the couple has been plagued with nagging questions. The Duncans and their 45,000 neighbors live near Camp Sibert, the nation’s largest chemical weapons school during World War II and abandoned by the Army 56 years ago.

The problem is money: The Army Corps of Engineers estimates as much as $20 billion is needed nationally to remove hazards from nearly 9,200 formerly used defense sites ranging from old USO halls to areas like Camp Sibert.

But only $221 million was appropriated nationally for the work last fiscal year, and the corps estimates that cleaning up Camp Sibert alone will cost nearly $70 million.

Unexploded shells are believed to be the biggest threat at Sibert, but studies have also found that area groundwater may be contaminated with mercury, lead and a variety of chemicals.

NEW HAVEN, Conn.: Bush pays lip service to domestic public safety

“This is a symbolic gesture to illustrate a very real life-and-death issue,” said John DeStefano, Jr., newly elected president of the National League of Cities and mayor here. “We are sending badges from our cities’ public safety officers, which they wear on their chests when they respond to emergencies, as a symbol of our first responders’ commitment to the safety and security of our citizens.”

More than half of large cities say providing homeland security has made it harder to perform their normal public safety responsibilities, according to a survey released in December by the League. December is the month where most cities and towns enact their budgets for the upcoming year. Among all cities, 24 percent said shifting resources to homeland security has made it harder to meet normal public safety responsibilities.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner-Edwards.
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