The Hoosier Environmental Council has been representing Save the Dunes in a legal battle with Arcelor Mittal Burns Harbor LLC (AMBH), one of the largest steelmills in North America, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The dispute is over more than 3 million tons of toxic steel-making waste that was allegedly dumped by AMBH and its predecessors near Lake Michigan.
Open dumping of solid waste is prohibited by the Federal Resources Conservation and Recovery ACT (RCRA) and Indiana’s solid waste management laws.
Save the Dunes petition alleged that AMBH and its predecessors are responsible for dumping over a million tons of secondary waste water treatment plant sludge and 870,000 of blast furnace filter waste next to the Indiana harbor. Another concern is the newly generated waste that will be dumped now and in the future.
In 2010 AMBH was issued a permit by IDEM to construct an onsite landfill that would allow AMBH to dispose of their waste but not require them to monitor, control, treat or manage the toxic wastes before disposing of them.
The land fill permit was appealed by HEC who represents Save the Dunes, was looking to force IDEM to impose measures that would require AMBH to control and manage the toxic waste before disposing it in the landfill.
“Without proper controls in the interim, these wastes known to contain lead, cadmium, selenium, chromium, benzene, arsenic and other harmful contaminants, will continue to run off with storm water or be carried with the wind into the lake,” said Kim Ferrraro, HEC’s water policy director and staff attorney representing Save the Dunes.
Although the appeal was won and IDEM entered an agreed order (AO) that would require waste management to control measures and implement definitive timeliness for disposal of the wastes in the landfill, they did not hold AMBH responsible for testing the final soil sample after clean up.
There is still a question of who will be responsible, if anyone, to test the soil and make sure it is free of toxic waste.