Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.
The nation’s largest source of industrial lead pollution is just 20 miles down the Lake Michigan shore from Chicago, churning more than twice as much of the brain-damaging metal into the air each year as all other factories in the region combined.
ArcelorMittal’s steel mill in Burns Harbor, Ind., emitted nearly 18,000 pounds of lead during 2016 and has topped the national list since a Missouri lead smelter shut down in 2013, according to a Tribune analysis of federal records that raises new questions about the oversight of big lakefront polluters by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Burns Harbor plant also emitted 173,000 pounds of benzene during 2016, the newspaper’s analysis revealed, making the sprawling steel-making complex by far the nation’s largest industrial source of a volatile chemical known to cause leukemia.
Lead and benzene pollution from the steel mill rose sharply during the past decade as airborne levels of both toxic substances dropped nationwide. More pollution could be on the way if Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel-maker, ramps up U.S. production in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial tariff on imported steel.
Yet regulators can’t explain where the steel mill’s pollution ends up.