STD v IDEM (ArcelorMittal)

Background

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) prohibits open dumping of solid waste.

For decades, ArcelorMittal and prior owners of the Burns Harbor steel mill have discarded, dumped and disposed of toxic steel-making wastes and sludges on open ground. This has been done without containment in locations that are dangerously close to sensitive areas including Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore and the Indiana Harbor. Because the wastes are not contained, they are polluting the surrounding air, land and water with harmful contaminants such as lead, cadmium, sellenium, chromium, benzene and arsenic.

Rather than reinforce the facility’s past and continue open dumping violations, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) issued a permit to allow ArcelorMittal to construct an on-site landfill for disposal of the wastes. The landfill will take years to construct.

In the meantime, the facility will generate several hundred thousand tons of waste annually, in addition to the millions of tons of waste that have already been dumped on the ground. The landfill permit does not require the company to monitor, control, treat or otherwise manage these toxic wastes prior to disposal in the landfill, thereby allowing the wastes to continue harming the environment.

LEAF Action

On July 19, 2010, LEAF filed a Petition for Administrative Review with the Office of Environmental Adjudication (OEA) on behalf of Save the Dunes Conservation Fund. The permit appeal seeks to force IDEM to include requirements for leachate and stormwater control, ground water monitoring, dust suppression and other controls to prevent the waste from contaminating the environment.