ISG Cleveland gives back to the community

New data show 2004 asthma- and cancer-linked emissions up sharply from 2003

May 2, 2005
Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director
Ohio Citizen Action

When he took the reins at ISG Steel, Rodney Mott said, "I've built some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world. That's what we're going to do at LTV." (Born-again steel maker, Jennifer Cimperman, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 31, 2002).

Three years later, Mittal Steel has bought ISG, and Mott is retiring at 53 years old, walking away with $100 million. His boss, ISG owner Wilbur Ross, is walking away with $1 billion.

What are they leaving behind in Cleveland? Not "some of the finest facilities in the world." Mott and Ross are leaving behind the worst polluter in Cuyahoga County. New figures show that asthma- and cancer-linked pollution from the Cleveland Works steel complex jumped sharply in 2004.

2004 pollution from the ISG Cleveland Works

Type of pollution Emissions (pounds) % increase from 2003 Health hazards
Sulfur dioxide 1,483,980 + 39% Constricts airways, inhibits breathing, triggers asthma
Small Particulates
(invisible particles, under 2.5 microns)
963,700 + 38% Causes damage to lungs, triggers asthma, easily assimilated into bloodstream
Organic chemicals 223,000 + 30% Causes damage to liver, kidneys, central nervous system; cancer
Volatile organic compounds 223,000 + 30% Causes damage to liver, kidneys, central nervous system; cancer
Lead 240 + 100% Causes damage to central nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system
Source: ISG Cleveland Title V emissions fee report 2003 and 2004, submitted to Ohio EPA.

The giant steel mill in the Flats next to downtown Cleveland has had a parade of eight different owners since it was built 90 years ago. The newest owner, as of April 2005, is Mittal Steel, a multinational corporation based in the Netherlands. Mittal, which is 88% owned by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, calls itself "the world's most global steel producer." Mittal purchased ISG Steel, which had reopened the Cleveland Works in 2003 after LTV declared bankruptcy. ISG received tremendous goodwill and subsidies from the residents of Northeast Ohio, including a $330 million tax abatement from the City of Cleveland, when it reopened the mill.

But no matter what the name of the steel mill has been over the years, one major fact has remained: The mill is the largest single polluter of the air and water in Cuyahoga County. Air pollution from the mill, especially the soot and sulfur dioxide, is particularly dangerous to children and anyone with asthma. The Cleveland mill has more neighbors than any steel mill in the country: 390,000 residents and half of Cleveland's public schools are within five miles of the facility.

Mittal should invest in pollution prevention

Mittal Steel could truly become a global leader by showing how steel plants can be both profitable and safe. Pollution from the Cleveland Works includes soot, sulfur dioxide, and other chemicals that can trigger asthma and cause health problems increased over 30% from 2003 to 2004. AK Steel, a much smaller and less profitable steel company than Mittal, is spending $66 million to put in new pollution control equipment at its steel mill in Middletown, Ohio, for example.