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Steel mill sued over lake chemical spill

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) — Two environmental groups are suing a steelmaker for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act at its northwestern Indiana facility more than 100 times in the past five years, including an August spill that killed more than 3,000 fish.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and Hoosier Environmental Council filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court after previously alerting ArcelorMittal of their plans to sue, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. ArcelorMittal’s facility in Burns Harbor discharges pollution into the East Arm of the Little Calumet River, which flows directly into Lake Michigan.

The groups allege that the company breached its Clean Water Act permit after releasing impermissible levels of cyanide and ammonia in August. The chemical spill killed fish, forced nearby beaches to shutter and kept visitors away from the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

ArcelorMittal’s toxic spill and permit infractions harm the environment, kill fish and endanger safe drinking water, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy center.

The suit “calls for fines and penalties sufficiently large to change ArcelorMittal’s environmental practices and modernize the company’s equipment and operations to better reduce pollution damages going forward,” Lerner said.

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