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Press Release

Steel Manufacturer Enters Agreement Solidifying Its Commitment to Spend More Than $100 Million to Reduce Emissions from Its Dearborn, Michigan, Facility

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a modification to a 2015 consent decree between the United States and state of Michigan and the Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Corporation (formerly AK Steel) to resolve Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Dearborn, Michigan, steel manufacturing plant.

The decree required the Dearborn plant to implement certain measures to address visible air emissions from the plant. Because these measures failed to bring the plant into full Clean Air Act compliance, the modification requires Cleveland-Cliffs to undertake additional extensive measures at a cost of over $100 million, which are expected to reduce visible emissions from the plant, as well as curtail emissions of manganese and lead. Inhalation of lead and manganese can cause various, negative health effects, including impacts to the central nervous system. In addition, inhalation of lead has been linked to impacts to kidney function, and to the immune, cardiovascular, reproductive and developmental systems in humans. In anticipation of the agreement, Cleveland-Cliffs has already performed much of the required work.

“The agreement will ensure that Cleveland-Cliffs’ steel manufacturing plant in Dearborn operates in compliance with federal and state air pollution requirements,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “This modification will result in better air quality for Dearborn residents around the plant, who have been disproportionately burdened by pollution.”

“Today’s announcement shows that EPA and the Department of Justice are committed to achieving cleaner air for communities across the country,” said Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The changes that Cleveland Cliffs will make at its Dearborn facility will reduce harmful air pollution and improve air quality for local residents.”

The modification lodged today requires replacement of the plant’s electrostatic precipitator (ESP) that removes particulate matter from exhaust gases that stem from the plant’s operations and thereby controls visible emissions. It also requires routine testing of the new ESP to assure compliance with applicable emission limits, certain operational parameters and regular monitoring for visible emissions.

The company will also pay a civil penalty of $81,380 to the state of Michigan for violating the state permit’s opacity, lead and manganese limits. Additionally, Cleveland-Cliffs will implement a state-law supplemental environmental project in which nearby residents will receive home air purifiers, at an estimated cost of $244,000. The facility is located in an area with environmental justice concerns according to data from EPA’s EJSCREEN tool. For more information on the original settlement, click here

Attorneys from ENRD’s Environmental Enforcement Section filed the modification.

There will be a 30-day public comment period on the proposed modification. The modification and instructions on how to submit a public comment is available on the on the Justice Department’s website at   

Updated October 19, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-1163