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State Says ArcelorMittal Distorted Chemical Test Results After Cyanide Spill

Tyler Lake/WTIU

Since ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility spilled cyanide and ammonia into a Lake Michigan waterway in August, the state has required the plant to send daily test results to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Now the agency says the company has been distorting those results. 

In a letter to ArcelorMittal this week, IDEM says the northwest Indiana facility has been retesting when test results are higher than they should be — sometimes replacing the higher number with a lower one.

In a statement, ArcelorMittal denies the accusations. It says it uses certified, independent laboratories to analyze its test results and consistently provides accurate data to the state.

Natalie Johnson is the executive director of the environmental group Save the Dunes. She says if IDEM is right, that’s unacceptable behavior from ArcelorMittal. She says it also begs the question — does letting companies monitor themselves work?

“Well quite honestly, we don’t think so,” she says.

Johnson thanks IDEM for keeping ArcelorMittal accountable and says that the state should give more funding to the budget-strapped agency to inspect industrial facilities.

IDEM refused to make anyone available for an interview.

Contact Rebecca at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.