Archive for the ‘Mercury’ Category

Sneaky Industry & More Pollution for Indiana

Monday, June 13th, 2011

It is important to note that Indiana HB 1112 was signed by the Present of the Senate after passing through the House of Representatives.  Little do you realize, this bill was created by Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) and presented to Rep. Win Moses, but he turned it down because it was not good for the people’s health in Indiana…it was good for large corporations.  Phyllis Pond, however sponsored this bill and it was supported by Bob Morris.  Indianapolis Star reported this bill will allow Steel Dynamics to use its industrial waste as land compost material.

So how would SDI benefit from this bill?  This bill, basically means industrial waste can now be spread on land as an “amendment.”

Amended soil is a material added to soil to improve plant growth and health. A conditioner or a combination of conditioners corrects the soil’s deficiencies in structure and-or nutrients to improve soil fertility. SO this means that the department will allow the use of industrial waste products in a land application operation or as ingredients in a soil amendment or soil substitute on the same basis as other materials under the rules concerning land application and marketing and distribution permits.” I am concerned it is making “amended soil” (aka better soil) out of industrial waste. Industrial waste is the key word here anyway.  NOW WASTE FROM FACTORIES/INDUSTRY/CAFO’s /CORPORATIONS…ANYTHING….are SELLING the waste back to us and selling it as SAFE and legitimate.

To recap ~ The waste from steel operations (et al.) is illegal to discharge into the air or the water, but will legally apply it to land to make the soil amended! GENIUS!

My concern is that it runs off into surface water or seeps into groundwater. There are so few protections and even less enforcement of current law.  So this opens up the discussion of what is this “material to be land applied against the risks to human health and the environment.” WHO decides what is safe to humans and the environment? The industry that is selling our waste back to us?

The EPA took what it called a “risk-based” approach to regulating the 10 heavy metals–including lead, cadmium, zinc, mercury, and copper–it found most frequently in the late 1980s national survey. (Chromium was later deleted due to scant evidence for its toxicity, so part 503 now regulates nine metals.) The EPA postulated 14 pathways by which each metal could move from the biosolids into a person, plant, or animal. Then the agency determined which pathway would be most hazardous, and used that to set the lifetime soil “loading rate” for each metal. When the loading rate is reached, biosolids applications must cease.  This bill appears to have the trump card because the language makes a blanket statement to “INDUSTRIAL waste” that is more than just what you flush down your toilet.  Where is the heavily funded oversight is taking land samples across Indiana after it is indiscriminately applied to land?  Well IDEM has said they are underfunded and the EPA has been cut significantly; our ONLY 2 regulators of industry.

“Indiana releases the greatest amount of toxic chemicals into waterways, releasing over 27 million pounds in one year.”  So now we are going to take the waste and sell it back to us as amended soil?

As voters, tax-payers and clean water advocates, Save Maumee believes this is another failed attempt at oversight of sneaky industry and their strong lobby money.  Pollution does not understand partisanship.  It should disgust you too.

Abigail King spoke to Phyllis Pond at Friends of the River Lecture in July 2011.  Mrs. Pond stated, “My concern is when there is too much added to the soil, it can be hazardous.” ~ WELL YOU SPONSORED IT Mrs. Pond!

This bill passed and will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down ~ Into Our Water

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

 Meeting 05/17/2011– Many local homeowners spoke out at the meeting because of their concern with the smoke (sometimes blue, sometimes yellow) that comes from Superior Aluminum.  Their concerns for their health and their families well-being were many, but Denny Luma (President of Superior Aluminum) says, “I can’t tell you what the yellow smoke is,” giving little comfort to attendees.

Testimonials heard that night were heartbreaking.

“Our entire area has a tremendously high rate of cancer…everyone on my block suffers from several types of cancer.”

“These are our homes, please understand our concerns.  You come to work everyday for a few hours, but get to go home to clean air in your neighborhood.  We cannot escape it.”

“If smoke is not meant to escape, why is it when I call the Hotline number the smoke stops coming out immediately?  If it is that easy to make it stop than why is it smoking to begin with?”

The community has already suffered from previous problems in their neighborhoods from Superior Aluminum.  In April 2010, 10 families evacuated their homes due to a chlorine spill.  Article located here: “Chlorine escaped the building and 10 families had to leave their homes.”In order to offer comfort, Denny Luma explained, the new chlorine system that cost $1million dollars is the best chlorine system in the business.   It automatically shuts down if chlorine is detected.    Chlorine removes oxide from aluminum, like magnesium and hydrogen oxide.


Luma answered or redirected questions about the pollution, trying to ease worries.  He explained that the 4 baghouses worked like a cup over a cigarette, “After the cup fills up, the smoke eventually seeps out the sides.”  He attempted to comfort the community by explaining that 3 out of 4 baghouses have been replaced.  They have also installed 2 out of 4 hoods over the furnaces to further aid in pollution control.

The baghouses are labeled E, F, L, N.  Each stack has a filter which treats different types of pollutants.  All pollutants being released from these stacks are documented, measured and regulated.  Emissions NOT coming out of the baghouses are considered fugitive dust emissions.

According to the author of IDEM’s TSD Part 70 Operating Permit, Teresa Freeman, the definition of a fugitive dust emission is “anything that does not pass through the stack of a furnace.”  According to Devon Fry, Maintenance Manager of Superior Aluminum, the emissions that the community is seeing, smelling and tasting are NOT coming from a stack.  According to the EPA ruling on fugitive dust emissions, they are only allowed to a certain point. The community wants to know how much is acceptable. The community is also concerned about the frequency of fugitive dust escaping and how much of it is legally allowed.  No one has an idea of what is coming from the stacks or what is escaping from the building and their affects on health.   Does SDI have monitoring equipment? How much is escaping and where are the reports if it is being documented? Who will then be held accountable if the fugitive dust, after being monitored, is found to be beyond that which their permit allows? This is what we do know:

The EPA classifies particulate matter (PM) as one of six principal air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and sulfur dioxide. – University of Missouri Extension   A national breakdown of fugitive dust and where it comes from is located here.

Superior Aluminum’s Air Permit # T003-23683-00286
*first 3 numbers represent the County
*next 5 numbers represent permit number
*last 5 numbers represent company I.D.

(pg. 9/subsection b for fugitive dust)

Within the permits, we found a list of insignificant activities which included: gas used to power vehicles, dust kicked up by trucks, heating exchanged, and paved & unpaved roads etc.  However, we were unable to locate a list of what a fugitive dust emission is considered in regards to this specific manufacturing plant. The community is concerned about the emissions legality and the direct effects to personal health. Our goal is to have IDEM install air monitoring devices around neighboring properties that have had complaints due to smoke from Superior Aluminum to ensure compliance with all state and federal law permits regarding the Clean Air Act as well as Indiana’s individual state laws.

About Steel Dynamics:

Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI)/Superior Aluminum Alloys located on Edgerton Rd. maintains a 24/7 operation.  In 2007 Superior Aluminum and Omni Source were purchased by Steel Dynamics.  Superior Aluminum makes castings, INGOT, Molten Aluminum and Aluminum Diox Cones and have an annual production of 220 million pounds of product per year. They employ 127 people in northeast Indiana and have a $5.8 million dollar annual payroll. – Denny Luma

As the 4th largest mini-mill in the U. S., Steel Dynamics Inc. has $5 billion in annual sales and is the lowest cost producer of steel in the U.S.A   ~Ben Eisbart – VP, Human Resources Steel Dynamics Inc. 4/27/2011

The location of the plant is near the Bandalier Ditch that drains 2 miles south into the Maumee River in New Haven.  The representatives of the company stated there are no NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permits filed.

They encourage everyone to call with concern, questions, or complaints.

260-423-4132 HOTLINE NUMBER – to answer questions or handle complaints

Keith Busse – CEO SDI~Fort Wayne
Denny Luma – President
Jeff Makofika – Plant Manager
Devon Fry – Plant & Equipment Manager
Dave Lesher – Environmental Manager & Safety
Brian Winters – Omni-Source Env. Manager

July 19th at 7pm at the Orchid in New Haven is the next meeting.  We hope everyone will attend and stay involved

For more reading:

46803 Lung Cancer Zone. – Journal Gazette,  Jan. 13, 2008.

Indiana General Assembly Ruling 326 IAC  -ARTICLE 6. PARTICULATE RULES

SDI looks to add mill, new market. Journal Gazette, May 20, 2011 

Mercury Contamination in 96% of Wastewater Discharge Samples from Public Treatment Facilities (USGS)

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

High Mercury Levels Found in Water Throughout Indiana

USGS study shows that rain and wastewater discharges are sources
November 18, 2010


Mercury contamination in water and fish throughout Indiana has routinely exceeded levels recommended to protect people and wildlife, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). About 1 in 8 fish samples tested statewide had mercury that exceeded the recommended safety limit for human consumption. The causes include mercury in the rain and mercury going down the drain, according to a recently released federal study.

The most significant source of mercury to Indiana watersheds is fallout from the air. Much of the mercury in the air comes from human activity. In Indiana, coal-burning power plants emit more mercury to the air each year than any other human activity. In urban areas, wastewater discharge contributes a substantial portion of mercury to waterways.

These are among the key findings of a comprehensive study of mercury in the state’s watersheds during the past decade by the USGS in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

“Indiana has been a national leader in understanding its mercury problems through a long-term statewide network of monitoring,” said USGS hydrologist Martin Risch, who led the study. “Actions by the IDEM provided data about mercury in fish and wastewater. Our understanding of mercury would not have been possible without their cooperation.”

During the study, scientists examined mercury in water, fish, precipitation, dry fallout and wastewater to determine the causes and effects of mercury moving through the environment. They also examined landscape characteristics, precipitation and streamflow for a total of more than 380,000 pieces of data that provide a snapshot of mercury in Indiana.

“The amount of mercury in precipitation was the main factor affecting mercury levels in the state’s watersheds,” said Risch. “But wastewater discharge can be a significant source of mercury. When wastewater is delivered to a stream from hundreds of discharge pipes, it increases mercury levels in watersheds more than was previously recognized.”

Mercury was detected in 96% of the wastewater discharge samples from public treatment facilities in this study. Mercury in wastewater samples typically exceeded criteria set to protect people and wildlife. Higher numbers of discharge pipes in a watershed were linked to higher levels of mercury in the streams.

Water draining from reservoirs in this study had significantly higher percentages of mercury converted to methylmercury than water from streams without dams. Dams can trap mercury transported by suspended particles in streams. Once the particulate mercury settles in the lake or reservoir behind the dam, natural processes change some of it to methylmercury, a toxin that accumulates in organisms throughout their lives. Methylmercury levels are amplified up the food chain and reach high levels in some sport fish and in fish that serve as food for wildlife.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey   November 18, 2010