Environmental Safety for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been a Toxic Discussion

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) recently issued ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor a landfill permit, despite those who are concerned about mounting waste piles that have accumulated at the property over the course of many years such as the pile known as the Easterly’s Pile. According to a 2010 IDEM inspection report, the Easterly pile contains 274,000 cubic yards of basic oxygen furnace sludge, burnt lime and rubble. It is situated roughly 200 feet from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan.

It has been determined that the company will move some of the company’s rubbish to the approved landfill, while the rest will be recycled. Under state law, a mill can stockpile waste for recycling for up to six months. After six months, waste is presumed to be an open dump which is illegal.

Companies that store rubbish negotiate with recyclers to purchase their rubbish. The company with the rubbish or a company they send the rubbish to may “prepare” the rubbish, with the goal to keep useful chemical agents and get rid of harmful ones. Once the useful chemicals are sold, they may be used in manufacturing products for daily use.

However, the regulation process for environmental safety may not be adequately enforced so there may be a risk that harmful chemicals exist in our waters and in daily use products. Such harmful chemicals may be PCB’s, mercury, lead, asbestos, benzene, and mold. These agents are linked to a variety of medical conditions. For example, fluorescent lighting containing mercury used in the 1970’s has been linked to cancer. But, let’s take a closer look at how harmful chemicals can penetrate the air, waters and our bodies.

How about PCB’s? PCB’s have been linked to acne like skin rashes, neurobehavioral and immunological changes, anemia, liver dysfunction, stomach and thyroid gland impairment, and cancer. PCB’S existed in old lighting fixtures and electrical appliances such as TV’s and refrigerators. When these appliances were heated up, they released PCB’s into the air. For this reason, appliances are not made with these harmful chemical any longer. However, where do you store such harmful chemicals?

PCB’s can contaminate soil, groundwater and bodies of water.  These harmful chemical agents travel as a vapor through the air. So, food can be contaminated, particularly fish, meat and dairy products. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) agrees that PCBs are reasonably considered carcinogens that cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have determined that PCBs are more than likely carcinogenic to humans. By the same token, the risk relates to the extent of PCB exposure. People who have been exposed to excessive PCB levels such as workers at plants have an increased risk when compared to the general public. In fact, water authorities have identified what a “safe” level of PCB’s is for water.

If you are concerned about your environmental safety, contact Burton Padove for a free consultation at 219-836-2200.

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