Environmental Organizations React to Arcelormittal InvestigationReport

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Natalie Johnson
Save the Dunes
(additional media contacts included below)

Portage, IN – Earlier this week, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) released its investigation report on August’s fish kill in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. The report includes details on the incident and its cause, the response from both IDEM and ArcelorMittal, and the description of violations that occurred. The report points to a series of events which ultimately led to the toxic release of cyanide and ammonia nitrogen into the waterway that flows into Lake Michigan. Moreover, the report also indicates that ArcelorMittal had full knowledge of the equipment failure that would result in the “continuous release of thousands of gallons per minute of blast furnace gas washing wastewater, known, by the nature of its origin, to contain pollutants including Cyanide, to a treatment plant not designed or equipped to treat Cyanide.” Environmental organizations Save the Dunes, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Hoosier Environmental Council, Izaak Walton League and Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter found the report shocking.

“There is overwhelming evidence that ArcelorMittal knew early on that, due to its equipment failure, cyanide would be destined for the river,” says Natalie Johnson, executive director of Save the Dunes. “The egregious decision to not mitigate the impact or immediately report to IDEM, drinking water utilities, or the National Park is absolutely unacceptable.”

“ArcelorMittal is responsible and should be held accountable for dozens of violations of the Clean Water Act, way beyond the one addressed in the IDEM report,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “That’s why the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Hoosier Environmental Council served a 60-day notice of intent to bring a Clean Water Act enforcement lawsuit against ArcelorMittal for more than 100 violations of its permit, including water quality violations that harm ecological and public health.”

From Mitch McNeil of the Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter: “The actions taken by ArcellorMittal to knowingly and negligently send cyanide-tainted wastewater into Lake Michigan, as described in this report, are criminal. The steel industry is important to the economy, but so is Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan supports wildlife, recreation, commerce, and is a source of drinking water. Treating the lake as a dumping ground with such blatant disregard for its beneficial uses is unacceptable, and actions to that effect taken by ArcellorMittal, U.S. Steel, or any other company cannot be tolerated.”

“Research shows that chemical spills into aquatic habitats can have cascading effects that can impact wildlife and the food web for years after the incident,” says Emily Wood, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. “With the number of threats already putting pressure on our Great Lakes ecosystems, we have no room for companies acting without integrity.”

From Dr. Indra Frank, director of environmental health and water policy with the Hoosier Environmental Council: “ArcelorMittal’s irresponsible actions documented in this report deserve a significant penalty, one large enough to serve as a strong incentive to do better in the future.

“We are very concerned about the continuing history of the steel industry exceeding its permits and not timely reporting. This puts at risk the drinking water for millions of Americans and threatens the sporting fishing industry,” said Dean Farr, Izaak Walton League. “We hope that IDEM and the industry will develop best practices to responsibly produce steel while sustaining both the environment and the economy.”

“The report reveals a remarkable level of disrespect on ArcelorMittal’s part for public safety, wildlife impacts, and IDEM’s regulatory authority,” says Bowden Quinn, director of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter. “I hope the department comes down hard on the company for this flagrant disregard of proper operating procedures.”

Violations identified in the report include discharges not allowable under the facility’s NPDES permit, failure to provide required notifications, failure to efficiently operate and maintain facility in good working order at all times, failure to mitigate adverse impact, and numerous effluent limitation violations. The violations identified in the report have been referred to the IDEM Office of Water Quality Enforcement Section for further action. Such enforcement actions may include the payment of civil penalties, the reimbursement of response costs, and damages incurred as a result of the spill.

The full report and corresponding documents are available at www.in.gov/idem/cleanwater/2576.htm.

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For additional contacts:
Judith Nemes, Media Relations Specialist
Environmental Law & Policy Center

Sarah Damron, Chapter Manager
Surfrider Foundation

Emily Wood, Executive Director
Indiana Wildlife Federation

Indra Frank, MD, MPH, Environmental Health & Water Policy Director
Hoosier Environmental Council

Dean Farr
Izaak Walton League

Bowden Quinn, Director
Sierra Club, Hoosier Chapter

Great Lakes Conservation Coalition Urges Swift Approval of Final Asian Carp Plan Coalition of hunting, angling groups supports the Brandon Road Lock & Dam plan

Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-757-0408

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 24, 2019) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) approved a final plan to stop Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan by rebuilding the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River. The Brandon Road plan will add a gauntlet of fish deterrent technologies within an engineered channel. The chief’s report will now be sent to Congress for approval and funding.

The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition, a coalition of hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations representing millions of hunters and anglers in the Great Lakes region, issued the following statement in response:

“After several years and delay, We are excited to finally see the Corps submit this plan to help stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes to Congress. This critical step in the process is the result of diligent efforts by hunters, anglers, and conservationists across the Great Lakes and the nation to advocate for this plan, including the support of more than 200 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations. Furthering the relevant timing of the submission of this report, the news just last week that Asian carp eDNA was detected just six miles from Lake Michigan emphasizes the urgency now required of Congress to approve and fund this plan without delay. Asian carp are a national problem requiring a national solution.”

Just last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posted results showing six positive environmental DNA (eDNA) detections for Asian carp in Lake Calumet, just six miles from Lake Michigan. For more context on what that means, visit: https://greatlakesconservation.com/2019/05/23/fish-forensics-asian-carp-edna-found-close-to-the-great-lakes/.


For the press release announcing the support for the plan from 200 hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations, visit this link: https://greatlakesconservation.com/2019/02/22/over-200-hunting-fishing-conservation-groups-support-plan-to-stop-asian-carp/.


Learn more at www.greatlakesconservation.com.


The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition is an informal affiliation of conservation groups working in the Great Lakes region and collectively representing millions of hunters and anglers. Working together, we help advance solutions to the conservation challenges threatening our fish, wildlife, and outdoor heritage. The Great Lakes Conservation Coalition steering committee includes Ducks Unlimited, the Illinois Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Indiana Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League of AmericaMichigan United Conservation ClubsMinnesota Conservation Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, the Ohio Conservation FederationTrout Unlimited, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.


Statement: National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp

(November 21, 2018 – Ann Arbor, MI) — Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final draft plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The draft chief’s report of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam includes both structural and nonstructural measures including an engineered lock fitted with an electric barrier, a bubble barrier, an acoustic barrier, and a flushing lock to stop aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is located just south of Chicago and is a critical chokepoint to help stop Asian carp from continuing to swim closer to Lake Michigan.  The estimated cost of the project is $777.8 million, up from an earlier estimate of $275 million. A previous draft of the plan included water jets in place of the bubble barrier.

A summary of the final plan is available here: https://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Protection-and-Restoration/GLMRIS-BrandonRoad/.

Federal Register notice:


Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, black, and grass carp. After escaping from southern United States aquaculture facilities, they have spread rapidly and have reduced native fish populations in waters connected to the Mississippi River watershed, which connects to the Great Lakes watershed through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp pose a significant threat to our economy, outdoor heritage, and way of life.  In addition, the invasive species is a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes sport-fishery, which is estimated to generate at least $7 billion each year in economic activity.

Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, issued the following statement in response to the release of the updated plan:

“Across the country, Asian carp are undermining our nation’s fisheries and threaten the Great Lakes $7 billion annual sport-fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to rebuild the Brandon Road Lock and Dam south of Chicago is our opportunity to put stronger measures in place to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes a gauntlet of technologies to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The investment in this project pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We intend to review the updates to the plan in detail and offer official public comment later, but at first glance this looks like the plan we need to protect our waters, our fisheries, our sport-fishing economy and our way of life.”

Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, National Wildlife Federation, Senior Communications Coordinator, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119