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Explosion rocks NW Indiana steel mill, no injuries reported

November 30, 2021 GMT

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) — An explosion rocked a steel mill in northwest Indiana on Tuesday, rattling nearby residents and producing a plume of smoke visible miles away, though no one was injured, officials said.

The blast at the Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel mill could be felt as far away as Portage, and a plume of reddish brown smoke was visible as far away as Chesterton, a few miles away.

Residents and business owners said the explosion shook their homes and shops about 12 p.m. CT.

Cleveland-Cliffs spokeswoman Patricia Persico said the blast took place in a slag pit at the mill along the Lake Michigan lakeshore in Porter County. Steel slag is a molten liquid byproduct of the steelmaking process, and it is taken to pits where it solidifies as it cools.

“There was an incident with the site’s slag pit,” she told The (Northwest Indiana) Times. “The fire has been extinguished. There are no injuries.”

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Portage Police Chief Michael Candiano said police and fire units were at the scene assisting other agencies.

United Steelworkers Local 6787 President Pete Trinidad said no one was injured “and everything is under control.”

The Burns Harbor mill is Cleveland-Cliffs’ second-largest U.S. facility, and is located about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) southeast of Chicago, according to the company’s website. The fully-integrated mill operates two blast furnaces and primarily produces hot-rolled, cold-rolled and hot-dip galvanized steel products.