The city Air Quality Ordinance 3765 (Chapter 90) established the original authority for this department.   Staff oversees 78 companies within the City that contribute to air pollution through any kind of emissions from fuel burning, from processes and from air pollution control devices that emit directly or indirectly to the atmosphere.  In addition, the Department controls sources of fugitive dust from roadways and process operations that cross the business property line. The city inspects all manufacturing and commercial and small business entities on a regular basis and can charge an annual operations fee based on the type of operation defined in the ordinance. The Department partners with IDEM & U.S. EPA on some air permits which require inspection and permit review. In total, the Department oversees the local authority of over 500 air permitted sources to include contractors operating within U.S. Steel plants.

Air enforcement activity is handled through the City Law Department and, as needed, and IDEM, which may be supported with city inspection reports and monitoring information. Municipal enforcement of air violations include, but not limited to, open burning, operating without a local air permit, and air quality nuisance. Citation is done through Code Enforcement process with reporting and inspection assistance from inspectors who are sworn officers.

Operator’s Permit
Why is an operator’s permit required?
Process or fuel-burning or control equipment generates air emission directly or indirectly to atmosphere. The air standards require owner/operator to meet and attain the national ambient air standards that were developed and approved in the ordinance. The ordinance (3765) established rule to request and complete a registration form annually.

Open Burn – (Ordinance 3765 Chapter 90)
Definition and Requirements

  • Open burning for disposal is prohibited state wide.  A request must be received in writing for review and/or comments.
  • An open burn is any fire that is emitted directly into the atmosphere without passing through a stack/chimney; such as burning garbage, trash, paper, wood, industrial solid waste, camp fires, prescribed burns (vegetative restoration)
  • Events such as prescribed burns, campfires, trash burning, wood any other combustible materials require burn approval as enumerated below:

Contact the Air Quality Manager at 219-882-3000 to discuss the burn project and submit requested information for review and assessment.

Based on information provided, the Fire Department and the Environmental Affairs Department review and determine if the burn must be necessary and no other method is available

Certificate of Operation will be issued only when the Fire Department and Environmental Department approves the burn.

Inspection/Monitoring (Annual Inspection/Surveillance Drive by)
Inspections ensure air quality ordinance rules are being complied with the ordinance.  For example, dust or smoke causes nuisance to nearby communities or residences is prohibited in the City of Gary air ordinance.  Complaints filed with the department are investigated as part of monitoring/inspection.

Technical Support – We offer Technical Support to Businesses and Citizens.
From the City’s air quality ordinance; we can help you understand your permit obligations and how the rules may affect you based on inspection.  Based on information from the business entity, a state environmental permit may be required. Please contact the Air Quality Manager at 219-882-3000 for more information.

Land Quality

Brownfields – Brownfields are abandoned, lightly contaminated properties often found in economically distressed areas that can be returned to economically thriving, community hubs. Since 1993, the EPA has taken significant steps to clean up brownfields and return them to productive use, awarding millions of dollars in grants to cities, counties, tribes, states, non-profit organizations and educational institutions nationwide.  The city has received IDFA grants for inventory and assessment purposes, a U.S. EPA Brownfields Pilot grant for the assessment of the J-Pit area, two U.S. EPA Brownfields job training grants, and several other state and federal grants.

Urban Agriculture & Food Systems Program – Urban Agriculture and Community Gardening has become more popular in inner cities and places with food desserts.  While these practices provide alternative land uses, they also provide different forms of positive community engagement while addressing healthy food choices.   To promote this initiative, workshops and other activities and events will be made available to the community.

Landfill Post Closure – Since the 1997 closing of the Gary sanitary landfill, the Environmental Affairs Department staff has been responsible for carrying out the 30-year post closure monitoring maintenance requirements since 1999 established by the IDEM. The city set up a $1.7 million dollar fund to cover a 30-year period. The monitoring and maintenance schedule requires weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly inspections and reports.

The J-Pit

  • The J-Pit encompasses roughly 114 acres bounded by the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railroad to the west, 17th Avenue to the north, Colfax Street to the east, and the 21st Avenue Right-of-Way (ROW) to the south.  The site is a former gravel and sand quarry.
  • The J-Pit is about 25-30 feet deep.  The City of Gary is responsible for its management, which includes continual pumping to keep the quarry from filling with water.  The quarry is dewatered as part of the landfill hydraulic control system with an extraction pump located on the western side.  Shallow water-filled ditches run through the quarry to the dewatering pumps.  A leachate collection system and berm is located along the eastern border of the parcel.
  • The J-Pit offers an opportunity for creating valuable open space recreation, ecological habitat and wetlands, as well as, employment opportunities.

Scavenger Services – Permits are required for any individual or company who shall go to place to place within the city on any vehicle, mechanical or otherwise, for the purpose of collecting garbage, rubbish, ashes, or waste material, or any individual who shall engage in the business of collecting garbage, waste material, ashes, or rubbish.