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The denial continues at IDEM

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Happy swimming. Steel company, ArcelorMittals Burns Harbor site, on Lake Michigan.
  • Image by Mike Bostock, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Happy swimming. Steel company, ArcelorMittal's Burns Harbor site, on Lake Michigan.

In French, the word "Idem" means "ditto."

How appropriate, then, that we seem to be repeating ourselves ad nauseam with regard to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM.

This great catch by Gitte Laasby at the Post-Tribune, in northwest Indiana, provides just the latest in a string of examples of IDEM's incompetency. The department, it seems, is in denial once again:

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has launched an interactive map with photos of ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor sites that state and federal officials have investigated.

But a third of the 43 investigation sites don't contain actual photos of each site as it looks now. They are signified by the same photo, taken in 1999, even though they're located up to 3,500 feet apart.

Another area of investigation — large, dark gray waste piles named after Tom Easterly, the head of IDEM — are depicted on the map as a green meadow. A Post-Tribune aerial photo from late summer 2009 shows waste piles in the area about 700 feet long and 35 feet tall.

Did I say incompetency? This reads suspiciously like willful disinformation.

As we noted last week, IDEM's job, in its own words, is to tackle "air, land, pollution prevention and water quality issues," and "to provide quality environmental oversight." But if the department refuses to accurately portray the real conditions of these investigation sites, how are we, as tax payers, supposed to know whether or not the department is doing its job?

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