Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor Council reviews ArcelorMittal pollution report

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Burns Harbor Town Council President Nick Loving entered a formal report on chemical exceedances from ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant into the record at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting so future Councils can know who they’re dealing with.

The report, by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), found ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor in seven violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, in connection with an Aug. 12 fish-kill along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

Approximately 3,000 fish were killed due to discharges of cyanide and ammonium nitrate following a catastrophic failure of ArcelorMittal’s blast furnace gas-washing recycle-system pump station Aug. 11.

Loving read from the report, highlighting sections that detail how ArcelorMittal was aware of system failures that led to the chemical exceedances, including an earlier incident on Aug. 4, and failed to report them to IDEM and downstream users in a timely fashion.

Loving said the report “shows they did not make any effort to increase monitoring in response to their failures” before the fish kill.

Loving said he wanted the entire report on record, and wanted to emphasize certain highlights “so future Councils know who we’re dealing with when it comes to ArcelorMittal.”

“They knew what they were doing. They did it anyway, and at the end they tried to cover it up by not providing requested information to the state,” Loving said.

Council Vice-president Eric Hull noted that the Town owns a wastewater treatment facility inside the Burns Harbor plant that ArcelorMittal services, and said it was important to note that the Town’s facility was not the one that failed.

In other business, Council member Ray Poparad thanked the community for its support following the general election where he and the other three incumbents who ran were re-elected. Poparad also welcomed Roseann Bozak, the newest Council member-elect.

The Council received correspondence regarding its employee health insurance renewal from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that indicates the Town’s current plan will increase in cost by 14 percent next year if renewed. The Council members expressed dissatisfaction with the increase and opted to discuss the matter further at their next meeting, since the letter had just arrived Wednesday.

The Council voted to renew its contract with Republic Services that locks in the Town’s trash pick-up fee at under $17 per unit per month through 2021. Loving said the contract is a boon for the Town, since a new agreement would have cost $19 or $20 per unit per month due to increasing costs in recycling. The Council dodged such an increase because it years ago approved a contract that had two two-year renewal options built-in, Loving said.

Hull also noted that Burns Harbor is unique in the fact that it doesn’t pass the cost of trash pick-up onto its residents. Trash pick-up is paid for by the Town.


Posted 11/15/2019




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