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Indiana Steelmaker Denies Manipulating Test Data After Spill

ArcelorMittal's East Chicago facility.

(Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

An Indiana steelmaker has denied allegations of manipulating results from toxic readings required after a chemical spill killed more than 3,000 fish last year.

State regulators said that ArcelorMittal's steel plant in Burns Harbor is redoing daily ammonia and cyanide tests and sending the lower score to regulators.

READ MORE: State Says ArcelorMittal Distorted Chemical Test Results After Cyanide Spill

In a statement, ArcelorMittal denied the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's allegations.

“ArcelorMittal (Burns Harbor) does not manipulate data,” spokesman Bill Steers said in the statement. “We use certified, independent laboratories to analyze samples and we report the data, including any corrected data, from the labs to the regulatory agencies consistent with industry and laboratory standards.”

The steelmaker was required to do daily testing after a spill of cyanide and ammonia led to a fish kill and prompted closures of beaches along Lake Michigan.

Steers said the mill has been in compliance with cyanide and ammonia limits “every day since the August 2019 event concluded.”

IDEM Northwest Regional Office Deputy Director Rick Massoels wrote in a Jan. 6 letter to ArcelorMittal that the agency “cannot feel confident” in the reports. The company's attempt to redo daily ammonia and cyanide tests “undermines the integrity” of its self-disclosures, questioning its ability to police itself, he wrote.

“ArcelorMittal's self-monitoring program is either capable of generating valid results based upon one analysis of a given sample or it is not,” Massoels wrote.

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