Here’s a whole new meaning for the phrase “company town”: The village of Cheshire, in southeastern Ohio, will be purchased for $20 million by American Electric Power Company. Last year, the town was plagued by clouds of sulfuric acid drifting in from a nearby AEP power plant, Ohio’s largest coal-burner. Notwithstanding a recent $175 million investment in pollution controls, chemicals from the plant clouded the city more than a dozen times last summer. The town’s 221 residents reported stinging eyes, headaches, sore throats, and burns on their lips, tongues, and the insides of their mouths. AEP agreed to buy the town wholesale on the condition that residents give up their rights to sue over personal and property damage from the emissions. The company is none too sad about the purchase agreement, which will also free up property on which to expand the power plant.

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