Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel plant

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Steel Plant Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel plant, also known as Burns Harbor, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor steel plant (predecessor), or ArcelorMittal - Bethlehem Steel, is a 5000 TTPA integrated steel plant in Burns Harbor, Indiana, United States.[1] The Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel plant operates a blast furnace (BF) and basic-oxygen furnace (BOF).


The map below shows the location of the steel plant in Burns Harbor, Indiana, United States.

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The Burns Harbor steel plant was built by the Bethlehem Steel group and began operating in 1964 as one of the largest integrated steel plants in the United States. It relied on the Port of Indiana to import raw materials. In 2003, Bethlehem Steel was bought by ISG for $1.5 billion in 2003. In 2007, ArcelorMittal acquired ISG (and the plant) for $4.5 billion.[2][3] The facility was then bought in 2020 by Cleveland Cliffs in a $1.4 billion deal with ArcelorMittal.[4]

Environmental Compliance

Burns Harbor has had a long track record of environmental damage. During construction, Bethlehem Steel leveled several ecologically important sand dunes conservationists were attempting to protect (which later became the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore).[5]

In 2018, the facility was named the "largest source of industrial lead pollution" in the country after emitting nearly 18,000 pounds of lead and 173,000 pounds of benzene in 2016.[5]

In August 2019, the facility had to use Lake Michigan water for its blast furnace gas air scrubbers after a pump failure in the plant's blast furnace water recycling system. Since the pumps were not functioning, the facility ended up discharging many more millions of gallons of untreatable water which flowed to the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. The water contained cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen which exceeded its NPDES permit limit; an estimated 3,000 fish died in the Little Calumet River due to this incident, and nearby beaches and a drinking water intake facility had to be closed. The blast furnace pumps stopped operating for several days.[6] It is unclear if the steel plant was fined for this breach.

In 2020, the Environmental Law and Policy Center found that Burns Harbor had violated its Clean Water Act permit over a hundred times in the past four years and filed a lean Water Act enforcement lawsuit against the facility.[7]

In December 2020, state inspectors discovered that the plant had violated several environmental regulations by inaccurately self-monitoring their data, including storing their effluent samples at non-definitive temperatures that could change sample testing results.[4]

Worker Safety

In July 2020, an explosion damaged one of the blast furnaces at Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel plant (formerly ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor), and sent molten material out of the plant building, before setting it ablaze.[8] No employees were killed or injured in the explosion.[8] A video posted to social media showed that "the explosion at Blast Furnace D showered the mill with the shrapnel of large chunks of burning hot white refractory, the interior lining that protects the blast furnace shell from the super-heated temperatures within during the steelmaking process, suggesting that significant damage occurred."[9]

Plant Details

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. Completes Acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA, Cleveland-Cliffs, Dec. 9, 2020
  2. IHB (2020-12-16). "Legacy of Steel / Burns Harbor Steel Plant". IHB. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  3. "The Center for Land Use Interpretation". Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Violations Continued at Burns Harbor Steel Mill During Last Days of ArcelorMittal Ownership". Indiana Environmental Reporter. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hawthorne, Michael (2018-08-01). "Indiana steel mill emits 18,000 pounds of lead a year. Is it blowing toward Chicago?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  6. US EPA, REG 05 (2019-10-31). "Cleveland Cliffs LLC, Burns Harbor (formerly ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor), Portage, Indiana". Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  7. "Suing Lake Michigan Polluter in Burns Harbor". Environmental Law & Policy Center. 2020-04-06. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Blast at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor idles furnace, Rye Druzin, Argus Media, Jul. 16, 2020, Retrieved on: Aug. 6, 2020
  9. Explosion hits ArcelorMittal's Burns Harbor plant; official says stove dome failure to blame, Lauren Cross and Joseph S. Pete, Jul. 16, 2020, Updated Aug. 5, 2020, Retrieved on: Aug. 6, 2020
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Cleveland Cliffs (2022). "Burns Harbor Fact Sheet" (PDF). Cleveland Cliffs. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Cleveland Cliffs (2021). "Burns Harbor". Cleveland Cliffs. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 2022 AIST North American Blast Furnace Roundup, Association for Iron & Steel Technology, Mar. 2022
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Cleveland Cliffs (2021). "2020 Annual Report" (PDF). Cleveland Cliffs. Retrieved 2021-10-20.
  14. 14.0 14.1 2022 AIST Basic Oxygen Furnace Roundup, Association for Iron & Steel Technology, Apr. 2022
  15. 2022 AIST Coke Oven Battery Roundup, Association for Iron & Steel Technology, Mar. 2022

External resources

External articles