May 06, 2022
Burns Harbor, IN. – Today marks an important victory, holding Cleveland-Cliffs accountable for its Clean Water Act violations at the Burns Harbor, IN steel mill. The consent decree agreed to by the Plaintiffs Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), the Federal Government and State of Indiana, and Defendant Cleveland-Cliffs was approved today by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. ELPC and HEC initiated action against the steelmaker with a citizen enforcement lawsuit that was brought in 2019.
The Burns Harbor steel mill was owned by ArcelorMittal when ELPC and HEC filed their citizen enforcement lawsuit after the company exceeded its Clean Water Act permit limits on cyanide and ammonia many times, including a devastating spill in August 2019 that killed thousands of fish, threatened drinking water supply, and closed Lake Michigan beaches. The steel mill discharges into the east branch of the Little Calumet River, which flows directly into Lake Michigan.
“This is a big victory for protecting Lake Michigan, safe clean water, and Northwest Indiana communities. The consent decree holds Cleveland-Cliffs accountable for its excessive pollution and Clean Water Act permit violations, and it underscores the value of citizen enforcement lawsuits,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director.
“We’re heartened by this consent decree and we’re very hopeful that it will safeguard the extraordinary ecological treasure that is Lake Michigan from another toxic industrial spill, and elevate environmental protection across Northwest Indiana, which has several communities that have borne a special burden of environmental injustice for far too long,” said Jesse Kharbanda, HEC’s Executive Director.
The consent decree provides: