INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana environmental groups have reached a settlement
with ArcelorMittal and state regulators requiring the steelmaker to clean up
more than 3 million tons of waste piled up along Lake Michigan.
copy of the settlement signed Monday by attorneys for ArcelorMittal, the
state and the two environmental groups - Save the Dunes and the Hoosier
Environmental Council - was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The settlement not yet publicly released by state regulators requires
ArcelorMittal to develop and implement a plan for managing waste stored in
piles at its Burns Harbor complex about 20 miles east of Chicago. It also
requires the company to sample and analyze the soil beneath sludge as that
waste is moved to an on-site landfill and to test groundwater for
ArcelorMittal released a brief statement Friday about the settlement, saying
it is "pleased to be moving forward" with its plans to establish a landfill
at the Burns Harbor complex.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management did not immediately
return a message seeking comment.
Environmental attorney Kim Ferraro said the settlement will protect the
environment and public health from toxic materials such as cadmium,
chromium, benzene and arsenic, which are known to occur in the type of
wastes dumped by the company near Lake Michigan's shoreline.
Although ArcelorMittal does not admit to any unlawful acts in the
settlement, Ferraro said the company and its predecessors dumped waste
outdoors for years in violation of federal and state regulations.
Ferraro said the materials were stored outdoors with no environmental
protections near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a federally protected
park that's a popular summer tourist destination. The settlement goes "a
long way toward eliminating that ongoing threat of contamination" to the
area, she said.
The settlement comes two years after Ferraro, on behalf of Michigan
City-based Save the Dunes, appealed a state permit awarded to ArcelorMittal.
That appeal contended the permit allowing ArcelorMittal to build a
waste-disposal landfill at the site lacked environmental controls to keep
the waste from polluting the air, land and water until the wastes are moved
to the landfill.
"We impose permit limits on companies to limit their water emissions for
parts per billion - teeny tiny amounts that we allow them to actually emit
into the lake - and here these millions of tons of contaminants have just
been sitting exposed to the lake," Ferraro said. "It's just a clear threat
that has been out there for a really long time."
The waste at issue includes 1.8 million tons of secondary wastewater
treatment plant sludge and 870,000 tons of blast furnace filter waste dumped
next to the Indiana Harbor. The site also contains several hundred thousand
tons of new waste created by the mill each year, Ferraro said.
deal state environmental officials reached last September with ArcelorMittal
imposed waste management and control measures and timelines for disposal of
the wastes. However, that order did not require the company to test soil
following the cleanup of one of the largest waste piles.
The testing was added to the terms the company must follow as part of its
settlement with Save the Dunes.
"By bringing this challenge, we arrived at an agreement that protects one of
the most unique ecosystems in the world," Nicole Barker, executive director
of Save the Dunes, said in a statement. "This settlement is a major win for
Lake Michigan, and our region's only national park - the Indiana Dunes