Clean victory for environment
Finally! Easterly’s pile will be cleaned up. Several state environmental organizations have settled their legal battle against ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor LLC and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management over the large pile of toxic waste the steelmaking company has left next to Lake Michigan for years.
The harmful waste pile from the steel mill’s blast furnace is estimated to be more than 3 million tons and was dumped about 200 feet from Lake Michigan and near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
It was dubbed Easterly’s pile in honor of IDEM Commissioner Tom Easterly, who was a top environmental manager at one of ArcelorMittal’s predecessors, Bethlehem Steel Corp., from 1994 to 2000. Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Easterly to lead IDEM in 2005.
Despite federal and state laws that prohibit open dumping of solid waste, IDEM issued the company a landfill permit in 2010 without requiring the company to monitor, control or treat the industrial waste.
Save the Dunes and the Hoosier Environmental Council challenged the permit and won. As part of the settlement, IDEM entered an agreed order requiring the company to impose waste management measures and provide definitive timelines for disposing of the waste.
By bringing this challenge, we arrived at an agreement that protects one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, said Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes, in a statement. This settlement is a major win for Lake Michigan, and our region’s only national park – the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.