via [ Post-Tribune ] “Cancer-causing levels of pollution exceeded by U.S. Steel landfill” by Gitte Laasby
GARY — Over the last two months, U.S. Steel has exceeded levels of possible cancer-causing air pollution near its hazardous waste landfill several times.
Its benzene and naphthalene repeatedly exceeded notification levels since mid-August at the landfill, which is also known as the Corrective Action Management Unit or CAMU.
“There may be eight exceedances or so in the past two months,” acknowledged Rick Menozzi, director of environmental remediation at U.S. Steel Gary Works at a citizens meeting this week.
“We did have an exceedance in residential monitoring along Ellsworth Street. All the others were what the recordings were at the CAMU.”
The CAMU is located east of Bridge Street and north of Interstate 90, across the Grand Calumet River from a residential neighborhood.
Monitoring stations are set up near the CAMU and in the neighborhood. The CAMU contains dredged sediment from the river.
In mid-October, the company measured high levels of benzene.
At one point, naphthalene levels were nearly double the notification level, but pollution remained well below action levels.
Company officials did not have an explanation for the exceedances, but said a possible cause could be that standing water makes materials in the CAMU settle and collapse.
“When a collapse occurs, there is a release of (volatile organic compounds) in particular. The naphthalene is being released as this material collapses. The monitoring station is right there where the collapsing is occurring,” Menozzi said.
At times, the company has applied powder-activated carbon to reduce emissions.
U.S. Steel recently asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to landfill another 90,000 to 135,000 cubic yards of polluted sludge from a cleanup of two lagoons at the mill.
To do so, the company has submitted documents to prove to the EPA that the material is similar and compatible with the waste already in the landfill and that the landfill could handle it.
Company officials said a contractor visited the site this week to possibly bid on seeding the top of the CAMU to reduce emissions and water in the CAMU.
But cooling weather may not allow seeding right now, Menozzi said.