Cleveland-Cliffs' Burns Harbor steel mill, IN

Clean Water

Suing Lake Michigan Polluter in Burns Harbor

ELPC discovered an Indiana steel mill had violated its Clean Water Act permit over a hundred times in the past four years. We joined the Hoosier Environmental Council to sue the steel mill’s owner -- ArcelorMittal, now Cleveland Cliffs – and hold it accountable to protect Lake Michigan.

In August 2019, an ammonia and cyanide spill caused by a steel mill in Burns Harbor, Indiana killed 3,000 fish and closed beaches on Lake Michigan and Indiana Dunes National Park. Formerly owned by ArcelorMittal, the steel mill is owned by Cleveland Cliffs today. Operators did not report this incident, as required by law, until days after local citizens reported dead fish to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

This was not the first time this facility put the Great Lakes at risk. It has been discharging pollution into the East Arm of the Little Calumet River for years, which flows directly into Lake Michigan, and has violated its Clean Water Act permit over 100 times in the past four years.

What is ELPC Doing?

We could not stand by and wait for the state and the federal government to act. Because too many people depend on Lake Michigan for recreation and safe drinking water, ELPC and the Hoosier Environmental Council filed a Clean Water Act enforcement lawsuit against this facility.

One year after the 2019 toxic spill, their behavior still had not changed. In June and July 2020, the Burns Harbor steel mill exceeded its permit limits on ammonia multiple times, according to self-reported violations on Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Virtual File Cabinet.  It is more important than ever that ELPC pushes forward with its lawsuit against the steel manufacturer to hold Cleveland Cliffs fully accountable.

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