Steel on the Lakeshore

FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik / IPB News

ArcelorMittal announced it’s selling several northwest Indiana steel plants to an Ohio-based company in a deal worth nearly $1.5 billion. The sale was motivated by a need to please investors after a year of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik / IPB News

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — ArcelorMittal has been fined $14,000 after a steelworker died in an April train accident at the company's Indiana Harbor steel mill in northwestern Indiana.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — A steel company is blaming a fire at a northwestern Indiana mill on slag being dumped onto an area containing water.

The fire Monday afternoon injured a worker and sent smoke billowing from ArcelorMittal's steel mill along Lake Michigan in East Chicago.

ArcelorMittal says in a statement that the injured worker was treated for minor burns. ArcelorMittal says the fire is being company and union officials and is believed to have resulted from what it calls procedural violations.

Wednesday June 6 is the last day for the public to comment on U.S. Steel’s plans to make up for spilling a toxic chemical into a Lake Michigan tributary last year. But the Environmental Protection Agency says those plans are incomplete. 

Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET

The Trump administration made good on threats to impose tariffs on some of the nation's closest allies Thursday, announcing it will no longer exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from previously announced levies on steel and aluminum.

The announcement was made in Paris by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The Trump administration has decided to hold off on imposing most of its tariffs on imported steel and aluminum until at least June 1.

Tariffs were scheduled to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday on imports from Canada, the largest U.S. supplier of steel and aluminum, as well as Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and the EU.

A source familiar with the decision says the administration has reached an agreement in principle with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, which may avoid the need for tariffs against those countries altogether.

President Trump's tariffs on imported steel aren't the first time the industry has gotten protection from the U.S. government. Not by a long shot. In fact, tariff protection for the industry — which politicians often say is a vital national interest — goes back to the very beginning of the republic.

In his book, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy, Dartmouth professor Douglas Irwin writes that protection for the metal producers began in the 1790s.

A U.S. Department of Commerce document lists Purdue University research as a source for recommending a 24 percent tariff on imported steel.

When Purdue agricultural economics professor Thomas Hertel first saw the Trump Administration’s math, he had to check for himself.

“We quickly re-ran that experiment here and we get the same outcome,” says Hertel.

He created the Global Trade Analysis Project Model, referred to as GTAP, 25 years ago. The free database runs analyses on the impacts of tariffs and today has more than 17,000 users in 170 countries.

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — U.S. Steel will pay a $600,000 civil penalty and $630,000 to reimburse various federal agencies for costs and damages after one of its plants discharged wastewater containing a potentially carcinogenic chemical into a tributary of Lake Michigan, federal and state officials said Monday.

The U.S. Justice Department said those terms are contained in a consent decree filed Monday in federal court in which U.S. Steel promised to take steps to improve its wastewater processing monitoring system to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and Indiana law.

A steel coil is rolled out and slit to various widths for different customers at Mill Steel. (FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik/IPB News)
Lauren Chapman

President Donald Trump’s 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum tariffs are designed to make U.S. workers more competitive in the international economy. That could have a big impact on a manufacturing-heavy state like Indiana.

Barbara Brosher / WTIU/WFIU

The Brewers Association says canning is the most popular method for new breweries. That has some Indiana brewers worried the tariffs could stunt growth and increase prices for consumers.


When you walk into the taproom at Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis, one of the first things you notice is the noise. There’s the constant hum of brewing equipment in the background, and some of it comes from the nearby canning line.


Q&A: Steel & Aluminum Tariffs Start Friday, Will Have Mixed Impact On Indiana

Mar 21, 2018
Barbara Brosher / WTIU/WFIU

New tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are set to take effect Friday, and experts say Indiana will see both benefits and costs.

(THE CONVERSATION) President Donald Trump has been promising to save American manufacturing, and the steel industry in particular, since the presidential campaign. His attempt to follow through on that promise was the March 8  tariff increase on foreign steel and aluminum, arguing that the tariffs were necessary to protect U.S. industries and workers.

Trump joins a long line of presidents, both Republican and Democrat, who have used trade policy in an attempt to create or protect jobs – almost always in vain.


Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined Lakeshore Public Radio's Tom Maloney to discuss her upcoming trade mission to Canada, with Governor Eric Holcomb. Mayor Freeman-Wilson also discusses business expansion for the Hoosier state, as well as what's next for Gary following the city's Amazon HQ2 bid.

John J. Watkins / Indiana Economic Digest

EAST CHICAGO - An ArcelorMittal spokeperson says innovation is underway at the Northwest Indiana steel company.  It's for that reason David White, ArcelorMittal Director of Process Research in Global Research and Development, says he believes the future of steel is very bright.

White, who is based at ArcelorMittal's East Chicago location, says the company is currently  making products for the automotive industry, that he says will make automobiles more efficient and safer.  The company is making new products for other industries, outside of automotive.

Indiana’s ports move millions of tons each year of the stuff that’s made and used at Midwest factories, including steel, grains and coal. The three ports – one on Lake Michigan and two on the Ohio River – connect Indiana to the national and global economies, and each has to find its own ways to keep up with change.

For the first part of a three-part series, we visited the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor to see how it’s secured its place in the steel industry.

Steelworkers from around the country were in D.C. this week to ask Congress to strengthen its support for the domestic steel industry.

Among them was Billy McCall, who’s worked at U.S. Steel’s huge Gary Works mill for more than 20 years.

He and other United Steelworkers union members talked with federal representatives this week about an ongoing trade investigation into the effect of excess Chinese steel imports on national security.

McCall says that’s about not just defense, but infrastructure and people.

U.S. Steel Chemical Spill Threatens Lake Michigan

Apr 12, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency is responding to a chemical spill, which threatens beaches and the nearest public water intake, from the U.S. Steel facility in Portage.

US Steel reported Tuesday the wastewater spill into Burns Waterway, about 100 yards away from Lake Michigan. In a statement released late Wednesday, U.S. Steel says the spill resulted from an equipment failure and it has idled all production processes at the facility.

Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto show draws car enthusiasts from across the country to see the latest trends and innovations, Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore takes shows us how innovations in steel manufacturing means a better future for steel workers in Northwest Indiana.

A Minnesota steel company is spending almost $9 million dollars to grow its operations at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor, as state officials say they’ll prioritize Indiana ports and infrastructure investment in 2017.

Ratner Steel Supply plans to double the size of its four-year-old operations in Portage, just east of Gary.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation says Ratner will add a few dozen jobs and expand its ability to ship steel across the Region.


Nov 21, 2016

A judge has thrown out an antitrust claim against China by U.S. Steel. It’s the latest twist in the Northwest Indiana steel giant’s months-long bid to ban Chinese steel imports:

International Trade Commission administrative judge Dee Lord rejected the Pittsburgh-based company’s antitrust complaint against China. But it’s not the only trade case that U.S. Steel has in the works with the ITC.

A steelworker was killed at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works plant last week on September 30th. It’s the second death there this year, it comes amid rising tensions over safety.

Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows 28 primary metal manufacturing workers were killed on the job across the country in 2014. Two of those were in Indiana, about average for the past few years.

Sharon Jackson / Lakeshore Public Radio

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Baron Hill has won the endorsement of the United Steel Workers Local 1066.

At a rally Monday announcing the endorsement, Mike Millsap, District Director of the United Steelworkers said the local is supporting Hill because of his positions on issues.

Hill says strong labor unions is what built the middle class in this country and they must be protected.

ArcelorMittal Gets 10-Year-Deal

Jun 21, 2016

Chris Nolte spoke with Northwest Indiana Times reporter Joseph Pete regarding ArcelorMittal’s new 10-year-deal that will bring business to its East Chicago steel mill.

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal, whose largest North American mill is in Indiana Harbor, is introducing a new high-strength steel for cars. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Annie Ropeik reports, it’s part of an effort to boost profits — amid an uncertain time for the industry.

The new steel is designed for the interior rails and pillars that make cars safer during a crash. A spokesperson from Arcelor, which is the world’s largest steel producer by volume, says it should make cars lighter and cheaper to produce when it’s rolled out next year.

WKBN-TV, Youngstown OH

A group of northwest Indiana steelworkers were on Capitol Hill last week, protesting the TPP.  Medill News Service reporter Kristen Vake talked with a few of the protestors, and filed this report.

Sharon Jackson / Lakeshore Public Radio

U.S. President candidate Hillary Clinton is touring Indiana ahead of the May 3rd primary and made a stop in Northwest Indiana.

She visited Munster Steel in Hammond on Tuesday afternoon (4/26) where she discussed her support for the steel industry and protecting the middle class.

Clinton aims to reward companies for investing in America and collect from the ones who reap the benefits of tax breaks and then leave.

ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers union reached a tentative bargaining agreement, ending eight months of talks. The union announced the pact to its members in a bargaining update on its website on Wednesday. If ratified, the contract runs until Sept. 1st, 2018.

No contract details were divulged but the union said the agreement “preserves our economic security and other contractual protections.” Union officials called it a “fair agreement” that balances the need of management to save money, while maintaining a standard of living for union workers.

Washington, DC – Congressional Steel Caucus Chairman Tim Murphy and Vice Chairman Peter J. Visclosky have called on President Obama to utilize the newly enacted trade remedy laws.

The steel industry has changed considerably over the last 30 years.  It leaves many wondering about the future of working in the field.

As part of Lakeshore Public Radio’s “Steel on the Lakeshore” series, Lakeshore reporter Sharon Jackson talked with Purdue University Calumet Economics professor Paul McGrath about what’s changed in steel and McGrath says subcontracting is among the big changes.