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.

Article Comments

West Lafayette
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
Kokomo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 67°
Rensselaer
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 61°
Fowler
Broken Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
Williamsport
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Frankfort
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 61°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
Logansport
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Storm Chances Return Tuesday Night
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

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