BURNS HARBOR, Ind.
(AP) - Environmental regulators arenít sure where a northwestern Indiana
steel millís emissions end up after the pollution is released by the
sprawling mill, which is a major source of industrial lead and benzene
emissions, a newspaper has found.
The Chicago Tribune
analyzed the Toxics Release Inventory, an industrial self-reporting archive
maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and found that
ArcelorMittalís Burns Harbor steel mill emitted nearly 18,000 pounds of lead
and 173,000 pounds of benzene in 2016. Over the last decade, airborne
emissions of both toxic substances have sharply increased from the mill,
even as airborne levels of those substances dropped nationwide, the
And more could be
on the way if Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal--the worldís largest
steel-maker--ramps up U.S. production in response to President Donald
Trumpís controversial tariff on imported steel.
Even tiny amounts
of lead, a toxic heavy metal, can damage the brains of young children and
trigger learning disabilities, aggression and criminal behavior later in
life if itís ingested or inhaled. Benzene is a volatile chemical known to
On days when lead
pollution is monitored just west of the steel mill, those levels are well
below federal standards.
The mill complex is
along Lake Michigan and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Chicago.
The Burns Harbor mill is a big polluter because it produces steel from
scratch, a process that generally involves baking coal into high-carbon coke
and processing iron ore for the plantís blast furnaces.
The EPAís regional
office in Chicago said it started an analysis this summer to determine where
the millís lead pollution ends up. About 38,000 people live within 5 miles
of the steel mill.
A state analysis of
local wind patterns suggest that the lead released by the mill complex could
be blowing north and west toward Chicago or south toward Chesterton.
requires some work to solve a mystery like this,Ē said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman,
a senior scientist at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council who
researches air pollution. ďBut there are plenty of scientific tools
available to the EPA to figure this out if they want to use them.Ē
data from its monitoring station shows that there isnít any evidence that
the millís lead emissions exceed regulatory standards or poses a threat to
public health. The station samples airborne lead every six days near the
spokesman Bill Steers said the company has invested millions of dollars in
pollution-control equipment and is continuing to look for ways to reduce