HAMMOND — Cleveland-Cliffs and two environmental groups are within 90 days of shaking hands on a deal to resolve complaints the company's steel plants frequently foul Lake Michigan.
Lawyers for the Cleveland-based steelmaker, the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Hoosier Environmental Council informed a U.S. District Court judge Tuesday of the potential settlement.
The two sides stated in a memo to the court they reached a “settlement in principle” last Friday and will draft the final terms of the agreement within the next three months.
The two environmental groups sued the Burns Harbor steel mill, then owned by ArcelorMittal, in 2019 over what they claimed were more than 100 violations of the Clean Water Act since 2015 that had killed thousands of fish.
The Burns Harbor mill is on the Lake Michigan shoreline, near the Indiana Dunes National Park.
The environmental groups claimed the mill regularly discharges toxic levels of cyanide and ammonia into the Little Calumet River, which flows directly into Lake Michigan.
They demanded a federal jury issue a verdict that would stop further discharges, fine the steelmaker and order compliance with the letter of the law.
Cleveland-Cliffs, which acquired the Burn Harbor facility in 2020, disputed the allegations.