GARD press conference Valerie Denney (l-r), Carolyn McCrady, Jennie Rudderham, Kimmie Gordon, and Dorreen Carey [File photo]

Carmeuse Lime's permit renewal questioned by clean air advocates

Contributed By: The 411 News

Groups in Gary and Chicago say IDEM ignoring rules it set for air emissions by manufacturers

Two advocates for clean air – Gary Advocates for Responsible Development and Chicago’s Environmental Law & Policy Center – say Indiana will allow clean air laws to be violated with the renewal of a permit for Carmeuse Lime.

Carmeuse Lime, located on Lake Michigan in Gary’s Buffington Harbor, produces lime used in the steelmaking process.

In a statement released Monday, GARD urged the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to hold off on renewing Carmeuse Lime’s 5-year operating permit.

“Carmeuse Lime’s emissions are significant, and the company compliance record is poor,” said GARD President Dorreen Carey, in a formal letter to IDEM requesting a public meeting and additional time for public comment on the permit renewal request.

Carey noted, “A review of public records on IDEM’s website shows that during its current five-year permit, IDEM has issued Carmeuse 7 Violations Letters and 6 Formal Enforcement Actions, with the most recent filed in 2022.”

“We do not oppose renewal of the permit for Carmeuse,” said ELPC senior attorney Mike Zoeller in a separate statement. “IDEM should seize this opportunity to amend the permit to improve compliance and reduce harm to the surrounding overburdened communities. IDEM’s failure to toughen the permit renewal is tantamount to giving Carmeuse a green light to continue violating its permit with impunity.”

Zoeller said. “That corner pocket of Indiana, which is also close to Chicago’s South Side communities, has significant concentration of heavy industry with known pollutants, and is located close to large communities in both states where predominantly low income and people of color live. The region has been cited by U.S. EPA as having some of the worst air quality in the country.”

ELPC’s recommendations include an environmental compliance audit, more robust monitoring and testing of emissions, and a ban on burning trash for fuel. In reviewing IDEM’s proposed renewal, ELPC highlighted a lengthy history of noncompliance with the current air permit.

“A company’s monitoring and record-keeping responsibilities are not voluntary. They are required by IDEM, and they are critical to protecting community health and the environment because they are the only way IDEM and the public can be sure a company is meeting its operating and emissions requirements on a day-to-day basis,” Carey added.

In GARD’s letter to IDEM, Carey also raised questions about the relationship of Carmeuse Lime and the permit renewal to the former Vexor engineered fuel (EF) company, located at 8480 Industrial Highway in Gary.

The plant, closed due to fire and now re-named Innofuel Energy Solutions, is discussed in the Carmeuse Lime permit renewal correspondence as being a fuel source for Carmeuse. According to Innofuels website, it blends garbage, including plastics, paper, cardboard, and synthetic fiber material with high BTU industrial wastes to produce an engineered fuel which can be used as alternative to coal.

Carey urged IDEM to tighten emission limits, increase monitoring and reporting, and step up inspections and enforcement before issuing permit renewals.

Story Posted:05/10/2023

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