US-made metal infrastructure requirements will test steelmakers’ abilities to comply with environmental regulations – Advice Eating

The Biden administration announced earlier this month that projects funded by the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Act can only use U.S.-sourced steel and iron, a decision that led to increased metal manufacturing and pollution in Indiana could result.

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo on April 18 telling federal agencies that all infrastructure projects funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021 must use iron and steel at all stages of the manufacturing process that is used in were made in the USA.

The guidelines could lead to an increase in steel and iron production at Indiana plants, which would require the expansion of highly polluting processes that are already straining the industry’s ability to prevent toxic releases to air and waterways.

Iron and steel are at the heart of construction. Products made from the metals, such as rebar and other reinforcing materials, are used in the construction of bridges, tunnels, highways and other vital infrastructure.

As of 2017, 21% of the structural steel used in the United States was sourced from abroad and 14% was manufactured outside the United States. The US currently ranks fourth in the world for crude steel production and eighth for the production of pig iron, the former pig iron making steel and other alloys.

The steel industry suffered economic difficulties in the early years of the pandemic but has since recovered, with some companies reporting record profits.

President Joe Biden said fully rebuilding the economy requires federal support for American manufacturing.

“From day one, every action I’ve taken to rebuild our economy has been guided by one principle — Made in America,” Biden said in an April 14 speech. “It means using products, parts and materials made right here in the United States of America. It means bringing back manufacturing jobs and building supply chains here at home, not offshore.”

The US government has the power to direct federal agencies to buy US-made products through the Buy American Act of 1933, a Great Depression-era statute mandating government contracts for $10,000 to buy in the US manufactured products or raw materials. The law, which has had multiple exceptions and waivers, has been watered down through trade deals and executive orders over the past 89 years.

Biden’s “Buy American” guidance could lead to a surge in steel and iron manufacturing, but companies with Indiana assets were reluctant to say if they anticipate it.

US Steel Corp., whose Gary Works in Gary, Indiana, is one of the largest steel mills in the world, told the Indiana Environmental Reporter that any predictions as to whether government guidance would result in more production are “pure speculation at this time.” “ be. Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the largest flat steel producer in North America, which recently purchased several plants in northwestern Indiana, did not respond to questions.

However, both companies have predicted that the conflict in Ukraine, which currently has its military focus in one of the world’s most important metals producing regions, the Donbass Basin, will lead to a surge in domestic steel production for uses here and abroad.

Biden administration guidance could push production even higher, a possibility that could have significant ramifications for Indiana’s environment.

Indiana is the largest steel producer in the United States, producing 24.3 million tons of steel in 2021, mostly at steel mills on Lake Michigan.

The state’s mills have been or are at the forefront of production for many years, but productivity has threatened Hoosier state’s air and water quality.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency have charged US Steel and Cleveland Cliffs facilities with violating state and federal laws regulating air and water pollution.

Cleveland-Cliffs acquired steelmaking and other assets previously owned by multinational steelmaker ArcelorMittal SA in 2021. The Company’s Indiana Harbor and Burns Harbor facilities have violated their air and water permits multiple times since 2015.

The Indiana Harbor facility received civil penalties of $7,000 in 2016 for double the amount of particulate matter emissions from a kiln and $6,200 for other air traffic control violations. On eight separate occasions in 2017, IDEM and EPA inspectors found that the facility dumped oil into the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal, a possible violation of the Clean Water Act. The company entered into a consensus order with the state and the EPA to resolve the allegation and agreed to take corrective action to prevent future oil spills.

The Burns Harbor facility in Cleveland-Cliffs has a long history of policing violations, making it difficult to tell just how much the facility has impacted the state’s environment.

In 2015, IDEM fined the company $5,000 for permit violations related to particulate matter emissions.

Between 2018 and 2020, the Burns Harbor facility violated statutory monitoring requirements, including failing to collect monitoring data, failing to calibrate monitors, and reporting deviations from emission limits long after they occurred. The violations resulted in a $100,800 civil penalty.

In August 2019, the Burns Harbor facility experienced a blast furnace water recirculation system failure, which released large quantities of cyanide and ammonia into the Little Calumet River. The release killed thousands of fish and closed beaches along Indiana Dunes National Park, but ultimately had no impact on drinking water in the area.

During the investigation of the release, IDEM inspectors identified multiple sampling and testing violations, including the use of potentially illegal methods to dilute water samples. ArcelorMittal denied tampering with data, but surveillance violations continued during the sale of the facility to Cleveland-Cliffs.

Cleveland-Cliffs has said it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, but the company has struggled to meet its permitting requirements, having identified at least five documented effluent compliance violations in the last year.

The US steel mill in the Midwest also has a choppy discharge record. In 2017, the plant dumped nearly 300 pounds of hexavalent chromium, a compound known to cause cancer, into the Burns Waterway, resulting in a Consent Decree with federal and state agencies that forced the company to pay a civil penalty of $601,242 and to meet additional regulatory requirements.

A little over six months after the spill, the facility reported twice the allowable total chromium discharge, and IDEM inspectors found multiple violations of operational, self-monitoring and effluent compliance limits.

In 2018, an anonymous complaint to IDEM led inspectors to find the facility was dumping scum and scum into the Burns Waterway. Inspectors later found that the causes were oil and grease in some cases and sulfuric acid in others.

US Steel was fined $950,000 in civil penalties for multiple violations of permitting requirements.

In 2021, the company announced that a missed acid delivery triggered a series of events leading to a
A large amount of iron is discharged into the Burns Waterway, causing it to turn a reddish-orange colour. The U.S. Department of Justice said the firing violated the 2017 consent decree and is investigating what penalty will be imposed.

US Steel’s largest facility, the Gary Works, has had a similar troubled history since 2015, with multiple violations of emissions, monitoring and inspections.

Gary Works was fined $23,800 in civil penalties in 2018 for allowing hazardous waste at the facility to mix with rainwater, which then migrated to a nearby gravel area. The plant also received a $9,000 penalty for allowing hydrochloric acid from a pickling process tank to enter a ground trench and lift station.

Recently, US Steel entered into an agreement with IDEM to resolve allegations that the company violated its permits by exceeding effluent limits for mercury, oil and fat, failing to collect cyanide samples over a three-month period, and mercury and stormwater discharged into the Grand Calumet River in separate events. The company faces a $189,400 civil penalty and other regulatory actions.

IDEM told the Indiana Environmental Reporter that changes to a facility’s operation, including increases in capacity and operating units, or changes in the type or amount of pollutants emitted or discharged, may require permit changes.

The agency said it has sufficient staff to implement federal and state regulations and intends to continue monitoring facilities in Northwest Indiana and other parts of the state.

“Installations must comply with the emission limits set in their permits, whether they are operating at 100% or 50% utilization,” the agency said.

The agency recently announced Cathy Csatari, a senior environmental manager in the hazardous waste division, as the new director of the IDEM Northwest Regional Office. Csatari has experience inspecting steel mills, refineries and licensed treatment, storage and disposal facilities.

IDEM also recently launched a new website to increase transparency and help Hoosiers track “places of interest” in Northwest Indiana, including US Steel and Cleveland-Cliffs facilities.

With one click, Hoosiers can view the facility’s permits, the most recent inspection report, any recent incidents, and any court orders imposed on the facility.

Institutions’ sites also contain direct links to documents that institutions have submitted to IDEM via the Agency’s virtual archive.

Hoosiers can also sign up for email updates about the facilities.

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