Environmental groups sue steel mill over lake chemical spill

Two environmental groups are suing a steelmaker for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act at its northwestern Indiana facility more than 100 times in the past five years, including an August spill that killed more than 3,000 fish.

Posted: Dec 13, 2019 9:25 AM

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) — Two environmental groups are suing a steelmaker for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act at its northwestern Indiana facility more than 100 times in the past five years, including an August spill that killed more than 3,000 fish.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and Hoosier Environmental Council filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court after previously alerting ArcelorMittal of their plans to sue, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. ArcelorMittal's facility in Burns Harbor discharges pollution into the East Arm of the Little Calumet River, which flows directly into Lake Michigan.

The groups allege that the company breached its Clean Water Act permit after releasing impermissible levels of cyanide and ammonia in August. The chemical spill killed fish, forced nearby beaches to shutter and kept visitors away from the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

ArcelorMittal's toxic spill and permit infractions harm the environment, kill fish and endanger safe drinking water, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy center.

The suit "calls for fines and penalties sufficiently large to change ArcelorMittal's environmental practices and modernize the company's equipment and operations to better reduce pollution damages going forward," Lerner said.

"ArcelorMittal should be held fully accountable for its pollution that harms local communities, the Lake Michigan shoreline and nearby waters, and the aquatic life and ecosystem of Northwest Indiana," he said.

A spokesman for ArcelorMittal said the company had not yet been served with the lawsuit.

Indra Frank, environmental health and water policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said the community cannot continue waiting for the state and federal governments to act in the face of "repeated, illegal damage to Lake Michigan."

"The damage has to stop for the sake of everyone who gets their drinking water from the lake; everyone who swims, fishes, or boats in the Lake; and the wildlife that make their home in the Lake," Frank said.

The groups said ArcelorMittal did not disclose the spill until after the public began discovering thousands of dead fish.

ArcelorMittal, one of Porter County's largest employers, has nearly 3,400 workers on a nearly 2,000-acre (809-hectare) swath along Lake Michigan, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Chicago.

Lafayette
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 15°
Kokomo
Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 15°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 11°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 15°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
18° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 6°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 16°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 17°
Monticello
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 15°
Monticello
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 15°
Logansport
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 17°
Snow showers......
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 614946

Reported Deaths: 9807
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion849231342
Lake45784693
Allen33103560
Hamilton29752316
St. Joseph27572383
Elkhart24496346
Vanderburgh19679255
Tippecanoe18150144
Johnson15234296
Porter14970172
Hendricks14550253
Madison11071223
Clark10852145
Vigo10819185
Monroe9496115
Delaware9193136
LaPorte9173164
Howard8325148
Kosciusko811485
Warrick683399
Hancock6783106
Bartholomew6659100
Floyd6522113
Wayne6194164
Grant6050118
Dubois559081
Boone557968
Morgan551996
Henry512365
Marshall507884
Dearborn488745
Cass487864
Noble476159
Jackson428747
Shelby423381
Lawrence395180
Clinton375845
Gibson375560
Harrison354046
DeKalb351365
Montgomery349754
Knox337839
Miami325244
Steuben315846
Whitley313126
Wabash306951
Adams303636
Ripley301646
Putnam299152
Huntington295760
Jasper293035
White275943
Daviess271776
Jefferson267738
Decatur249983
Fayette249949
Greene242763
Posey241828
Wells237551
LaGrange230363
Scott227939
Clay225032
Randolph215848
Jennings200937
Spencer193622
Sullivan193633
Washington189023
Fountain185227
Starke177044
Jay168723
Owen168338
Fulton165430
Orange161035
Carroll160616
Rush156418
Perry156129
Vermillion150034
Franklin149933
Tipton134433
Parke13098
Pike118826
Blackford112023
Pulaski97937
Newton92621
Brown88835
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin75013
Warren6867
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4967
Unassigned0375

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events