Why is this important to us?

Air, land and water are finite natural resources. To be a sustainable company we must ensure that each of these resources is used in a responsible manner. Our goal is to respect the ecosystems in the cities and states where our facilities operate. These are also the communities where our stakeholders, including our employees and our local community members, live and work. We must also consider our impact on the larger climate of the United States and the planet. 

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

The steelmaking process is heavily dependent upon natural resources.  For example, air emissions like carbon dioxide are a byproduct of steel production. Steel is composed of natural resources such as iron ore that is mined from the land. In addition, water plays a critical role in the material transportation and steel production process. 

What do we need to do?

Because steel is central to our everyday lives, we must find ways to manage and minimize our environmental impact. This starts with meeting required environmental regulations and innovating new solutions to continually decrease our environmental footprint. In 2014, 100 percent of our steelmaking facilities in operation maintained their ISO 14001 certification status from the International Standardization Organization.  Adhering to this voluntary environmental management framework demonstrates our commitment to minimizing the impact steelmaking has on the environment. Our facilities are regularly audited by internal and external staff to evaluate regulatory and permitting issues. Our stakeholder relationships are also critical to our success, ensuring that we anticipate issues before they arise and that we are able to work in partnership to address them. Our goal is to build and retain the trust of our stakeholders.  

What is the potential to create value?

Our greatest opportunity to create value lies in our strong stakeholder relationships. Our partnerships with groups such as Sustain our Great Lakes and the Wildlife Habitat Council are excellent examples of how we are actively involved in meaningful environmental protection initiatives outside our company. Additionally, we create value by ensuring our processes set a best practice example of environmental performance. We continue to look for opportunities to utilize the byproducts of steelmaking as resources to drive environmental sustainability. 

Collaboration drives water innovations

A great environment for learning

Collaboration drives water innovations

Everyone knows oil and water don’t mix. But both have important roles to play in industrial processes, and both must be handled carefully and in compliance with all environmental and safety regulations. Employee teams at two of our facilities in Cleveland, Ohio, and Weirton, West Virginia, have developed new approaches to handling and recovering industrial oils more sustainably. Their smart solutions are paying off in less waste, reduced impact on the environment, lower costs and safer work environments.
In 2015, General Electric’s (GE) Power & Water group awarded our Cleveland maintenance engineering utilities (MEU) hot strip mill water treatment plant its prestigious Return on Environment Award. The award recognizes customers for significantly surpassing environmental and industrial operational goals, while meeting industrial demands.
ArcelorMittal Cleveland received the award for a series of improvements made in its waste water treatment processes. These improvements have saved the company $410,000 and made the plant’s processes more sustainable.
It all began with an astute observation by an operator who noticed a change in condition and questioned it. Her question prompted a deeper analysis of how oils were being handled and separated by the water treatment system. A team of operators, skilled tradespeople and onsite contractors developed a number of process improvements designed to more effectively remove oil from the water recycling system. This has resulted in cleaner process water for the hot mill operation, fewer chemicals needed to separate oils, less oil build-up and damage on equipment, and reduced waste.
“Our team members are looking at anomalies and we are digging into ‘why’ it happened instead of repairing and moving on. We feel that this will sustain our jobs and the business. The GE team played a huge role in helping us get to the root cause. They have been a great partner and we are honored to receive this award,” said Irvin Smith, water treatment plant manager, ArcelorMittal Cleveland.
In addition, a new system at our Weirton facility’s No. 9 tandem mill is drastically improving the mill’s rolling oil recovery. The project has made the system more environmentally sustainable and cost efficient, and hasimproved ergonomics for solution tenders who work on the system.
The old oil recovery system had an unnecessarily complex design of 10 tanks. The oil and wastewater moved from tank to tank for various treatments to assist in the separation of oil and water. As this oil solution was pumped from tank to tank – emulsifying and expanding – overflow was an expensive and frequent problem, generating waste that was disposed in a landfill. Also, with the old system employees frequently had to climb ladders running up the sides of the 10 tanks to assess problems and conduct their work.
A new and more sustainable oil recovery system was created through a collaboration between the facility and General Electric. “This project was a good example of the salaried and union workforce working together and combining technical expertise and know-how to arrive at a much improved solution that will save both money and landfill space,” explained Matt Caprarese, division manager, MEU, ArcelorMittal Weirton.
The new system uses only two of the 10 original tanks, minimizes expansion of the oil solution and uses a significantly improved system of separation. It also has spiral steps around the tanks to take away the strain of repeated ladder climbing for solution workers. By accomplishing these things, the new system is reducing costs, improving environmental performance and providing improved ergonomics for employees. With the new system, the separated water has a significantly reduced concentration of oil and grease – less than 10 percent of what it previously was. “We are recovering about 40 more gallons of oil each day that would have previously been landfilled. Now we are capturing it and the oil is being recycled in another operation,” said Caprarese.
Also, with the overflow problem eliminated, regular contractor costs for the oil recovery system have been reduced to one-eighth of what they were with the old 10 tank system. The need to solidify this oil for landfill disposal has also been eliminated.
“This was a real team effort that was completed from start to finish safely with no injuries,” said Rich McCullough, lead engineer, maintenance and project lead on the oil recovery project. “The successful completion of this project provides a significant environmental improvement and cost savings to Weirton.”

A great environment for learning

Environmental professionals are very important to our business. They measure compliance, negotiate permits, and advocate for regulations that minimize the financial and operational impacts to our facilities, all of which are critical for us to remain operational and avoid penalties. But they also look to the future to ensure that ArcelorMittal remains a trusted user of air, land and water and is a welcome member of the communities in which we work. That’s where the new U.S. employee development program for environmental professionals comes in.

Back in 2011, the average age of environmental professionals in our company was late fifties. Keith Nagel, director of environmental affairs and real estate, ArcelorMittal USA, noticed this and began to work with human resources to make sure we would have trained environmental professionals to take over as our more experienced employees retired. “The plan is to hire former environmental interns from the plants, or other qualified recent graduates into our environmental training program where we spend at least a year with them,” says Nagel. “We want to start
the careers of these young environmental professionals with a formal and on the job training mentorship program, which includes rotations through air, water, and waste management programs as well as our regulatory policy program. It’s worked out very well.”

Environmental engineer John Hill, a chemical engineering major from Michigan State University, was the first graduate invited to join the program four years ago. “In school, you’re focused on very specific engineering concepts,” says Hill. “This program was multi-faceted; a blend of engineering, strategic business thinking and regulations and laws that affect the company. If ArcelorMittal USA is negotiating a permit or meeting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce risks of emerging regulations, for example, a recent graduate wouldn’t normally have access to those processes. And through this rotating mentorship program, I did. That kind of experience is helping me as my responsibilities have grown within the company.”

Recent graduates don’t necessarily understand how a steel mill works, but in order to be really effective at their jobs, that understanding is critical. This was another important aspect of the development program: to make sure these young environmental professionals knew about and were enrolled in special training courses. For example, research and development has an excellent blast furnace introduction training course. Because environmental regulations are so tied to our operations, our engineers on the environmental team have to have a technical understanding of the blast furnace process, so they can appreciate how regulations affect our ability to operate, and how much compliance costs the company.

“It’s difficult to coordinate more than 30 environmental professionals who’ve come from six or seven predecessor companies,” says Nagel. “We’ve spent the last couple of years streamlining, sharing best practices and developing a real culture of compliance. We want to grow the knowledge base in the environmental area within our ranks, as consultants are very costly for the company. I know it can be done.”

Julianne Kurdila, who works for Nagel in environmental affairs and real estate, is charged with creating and coordinating an environmental portal through ArcelorMittal University (AMU). “Right now we have ‘steel academy’ and ‘iron academy’ programs through AMU,” Kurdila says. “We’re establishing an 'environmental academy' for the U.S. This one portal will provide access to all training, best practices, company procedures, and other important environmental information. The benefits of the portal are many: satisfying annual regulatory training requirements in a cost-effective manner, sharing clear expectations on roles and responsibilities, further coordinating our environmental team and highlighting sustainability practices across the U.S.”

Nagel and his team are identifying 4-5 interns each year with the intention of offering the special mentoring and training program to select individuals. Other sites around the globe are looking to the new employee development program for our environmental professionals as a best practice for how to provide proper environmental training to the professionals in their countries.

2015 Highlights


Management systems

Maintain ISO 14001 certification for steelmaking facilities in operation

Maintained ISO 14001 certification for steelmaking facilities in operation

Continue to maintain ISO 14001 certification for steelmaking facilities in operation and utilize the environmental management information system to make continuous improvements in how we manage our environmental performance

Knowledge retention

Ensure transfer of knowledge to new environmental professionals 
Continued implementation of a formal training and recruitment program for the environmental department Continue to recruit and train environmental professionals for positions on the environmental team through the implementation of a new ArcelorMittal University training program