October 04, 2019
BURNS HARBOR, Indiana — Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) served a 60-day notice of intent to bring a Clean Water Act lawsuit against ArcelorMittal for more than 100 violations of its permit, including water quality violations. ArcelorMittal operates the huge steel mill in Burns Harbor, Ind., near Indiana Dunes National Park, and discharges its water pollution into the East Arm of the Little Calumet River, which flows directly into Lake Michigan.
ArcelorMittal’s violations include exceeding its permit limits for total cyanide, free cyanide, and ammonia. In August 2019, ArcelorMittal’s excessive pollution, including significant amounts of cyanide, killed 3,000 fish and closed beaches on Lake Michigan and Indiana Dunes National Park. Despite explicit requirements in its permits, ArcelorMittal did not even report that incident until two days after citizens reported the fish kill to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Neither IDEM nor the U.S. EPA has taken any formal enforcement action against ArcelorMittal for the August 2019 incident or any of the other 100 alleged violations.
“Fortunately, the Clean Water Act authorizes citizens to sue when the government lets us down,” said Jeffrey Hammons, Staff Attorney at ELPC. “ArcelorMittal needs to be held accountable, and IDEM and EPA need to do a better job of protecting Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park, and the people who enjoy them.”
“In the face of this repeated, illegal damage to Lake Michigan, we can no longer just stand by and wait for the state and federal government to act,” said HEC Environmental Health and Water Policy Director Indra Frank. “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.”