May 08, 2023
Gary, IN. – The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) cited concerns about environmental justice and unenforced past violations in comments submitted late last week to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) on the proposed renewal of the operating permit for Carmeuse Lime in Gary, Indiana. ELPC has asked IDEM to amend the permit to include provisions addressing adverse impacts on local communities from an environmental justice standpoint because of the lime manufacturer’s air emissions. Harmful emissions include Nitrogen Oxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and others. Carmeuse is located on Lake Michigan near Buffington Harbor.
“Despite repeated violations of its air permit, IDEM proposes to renew Carmeuse Lime’s permit for another five years on largely the same terms,” said Mike Zoeller, senior attorney at ELPC. “IDEM should seize this opportunity to amend the permit to improve compliance and reduce harm to the surrounding overburdened communities. IDEM’s failure to toughen the permit renewal is tantamount to giving Carmeuse a green light to continue violating its permit with impunity.”
ELPC’s recommendations include: an environmental compliance audit, more robust monitoring and testing of emissions, and a ban on burning trash for fuel. In reviewing IDEM’s proposed renewal, ELPC highlighted a lengthy history of noncompliance with the current air permit.
The comments filed with IDEM are part of ELPC’s ongoing effort to review existing air, water and operating permits among industrial facilities in northwest Indiana. That corner pocket of Indiana, which is also close to Chicago’s South Side communities, has significant concentration of heavy industry with known pollutants, and is located close to large communities in both states where predominantly low income and people of color live. The region has been cited by U.S. EPA as having some of the worst air quality in the country.
ELPC does not oppose renewal of the permit for Carmeuse, which manufactures lime used in the steelmaking process. However, ELPC recommends a wide range of amendments to the permit renewal to mitigate harm to nearby communities. These include steps to improve continuous compliance with permit requirements, additional stack tests, and continuous emission monitors on the five 50+ year-old lime kilns, which is the source of much of the air pollution from the facility. At a minimum, ELPC recommends that the permit include a complete record of Carmeuse’s noncompliance issues since its last renewal, detailed information about the fuels used to operate its five kilns, and improved reporting to promote public engagement and help build trust among all stakeholders.