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Save the Dunes Council appeals ArcelorMittal landfill permit

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BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) A northern Indiana environmental group is appealing a state permit recently awarded to ArcelorMittal for its planned disposal of steel-making waste at the company's complex along Lake Michigan.

In its petition, the Save the Dunes Council said the permit does not contain proper environmental controls to keep toxic waste from polluting the air, land and water until the waste is landfilled at the Burns Harbor site.

The Council wants the states Office of Environmental Adjudication to review the permit. If the office agrees, it could halt the permit and order the state to include more pollution control requirements.

Save the Dunes appeal said "the permit does not, in any way require (ArcelorMittal) to test, monitor, control, treat or otherwise manage those wastes" to protect the public health and the environment until it is disposed of in the landfill in accord with state law.

Valparaiso attorney Kim Ferraro, who is handling the case on behalf of the group, told The Post-Tribune of Merrillville that stopping the landfill isnt a realistic goal.

Instead, she said Save the Dunes wants the Luxembourg-based company to take temporary measures to control runoff from the waste, minimize dust, monitor groundwater, sample the waste and provide a specific timeline for when the open-dumped waste will be landfilled.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Managements permit requires such environmental controls only after the material is landfilled.

Ferraro, an attorney for the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation, said the waste is currently dumped without any pollution controls.

"One would think they should be equally concerned about the wastes that are sitting open dumped," she said.

IDEM spokeswoman Amy Hartsock said the agency does its best to issue permits based on the info provided by the applicant and applicable laws.

"Our staff members worked very hard, and the agency works very hard, to make sound decisions that are protective of Hoosiers and our environment in all permitting issues," she said. "We carefully look at all technical and legal aspects before we make a final decision."

The permit will allow ArcelorMittal to dispose of more than 2 million tons of steel-making waste at the site, which spans five square miles some 10 miles east of Gary.

Ferraro and other critics have urged IDEM to sample and test waste at the site to see how toxic it is, rather than relying on test results dating to 1999.

State inspections have found that some of the plants waste is considered open-dumped because it has been stored outdoors for more than six months in violation of Indiana law.


Posted 7/21/2010





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