UPDATED: IDEM OKs landfill permit for ArcelorMittal plant here
BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) — Indiana regulators have issued a landfill permit
allowing ArcelorMittal to dispose of more than 2 million tons of
steel-making waste at the company’s sprawling complex along Lake Michigan.
The state announced its decision in public notices received Tuesday, one year after ArcelorMittal applied for a permit to build and operate
a restricted-waste landfill.
The Luxembourg-based steel company said in a statement that the landfill at
its Burns Harbor site would be used primarily to store a type of sludge
produced by the mill’s manufacturing processes.
“We look forward to beginning landfill construction activities in the near
future,” the company’s statement said.
Valparaiso lawyer Kim Ferraro of the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation of
Indiana said the permit answers some of the questions she and other
activists have been asking for more than a year about the proposed landfill.
But she said the document fails to address what steps, if any, ArcelorMittal
must take to prevent wastes stored outdoors a few hundred feet from Lake
Michigan from entering the lake until it is moved to the landfill.
“That’s been one of my concerns all along,” Ferraro said Wednesday. “It’s
going to take several years still to put all of that waste into the
landfill, so what are they going to do to address the open dumped waste
that’s still sitting there?”
The permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management
allows ArcelorMittal to build a landfill at its Burns Harbor site, which
spans five square miles some 10 miles east of Gary.
In the landfill’s initial phases, the company will dispose of 1.5 million to
1.8 million tons of stockpiled sludge from secondary wastewater treatment
plants and 700,000 tons of blast furnace filter cake waste.
ArcelorMittal also expects to dispose of 200,000 tons of process waste,
generated annually, in landfills.
Ferraro said the permit clarifies for the first time that the 75-acre
landfill will accept wastes that had been open dumped, or stored outdoors,
at the site for more than six months in violation of Indiana law.
Those wastes are stored in a large pile near Lake Michigan that the
Post-Tribune of Merrillville has reported ArcelorMittal representatives call
“Easterly’s Pile” after Tom Easterly, the state Department of Environmental
Easterly was the top environmental manager at Bethlehem Steel Corp., from
1994 to 2000. Mittal Steel acquired Bethlehem Steel’s parent company in 2005
and merged with Arcelor to become ArcelorMittal the following year. Easterly
became IDEM commissioner in January 2005.
Ferraro and other critics have urged IDEM to sample and test the waste in
“Easterly’s Pile” to see how toxic it is, rather than relying on test
results Bethlehem Steel submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency in 1999.
Under the permit announced Tuesday, ArcelorMittal won’t be required to weigh
the waste it places in landfills, but will be required to submit quarterly
estimates of how much waste is disposed of.
State inspections of some of the plant’s waste piles have found that some of
that waste has been stored outdoors for more than six months in violation of
Indiana law. An April report by IDEM found that one pile of waste had been
stored outside for at least five years.
report said IDEM wasn’t taking enforcement action against ArcelorMittal for
open dumping because the company has periodically recycled some waste and
had applied for a landfill permit to dispose of the waste.