Essar, the Indian multinational that's about to create Minnesota's newest taconite mine in Nashwauk, was caught in Kentucky repeatedly submitting bogus water quality measurements to make its coal mining operation appear as if it wasn't violating pollution laws.
Unfortunately, that was just one episode in the company's banner 2014 crusade to lift its industrial leg on Mother Earth.
Essar kicked off the year by having one of its coal-fired power plants shut down in India. It seems fly ash -- discharged during the combustion of coal -- was being released into nearby streams. The debris, which is loaded toxic metals, then flooded into residential areas.
Essar initially responded by blaming heavy rains, but said a new dike being constructed would stem the flow.
Pollution control officials -- even in notoriously lax India -- weren't buying. Essar Energy was ordered to immediately cease operations.
Fast forward to this past spring.
Across the globe in Ontario, Essar Steel Algoma, a steel plant in Sault Ste. Marie, was the scene of a 500,000-gallon liquid ammonia spill that threatened the nearby St. Mary's River. It was the plant's second environmental mishap in three years. The first came when Ontario fined the company $100,000 for discharging an unnamed contaminant into the air.
And in August, the federal EPA filed suit against Essar Minerals -- and six other companies linked to the conglomerate -- for discharging noxious materials into Kentucky rivers without a permit.
According to the complaint, Essar dumped fill material from its mining operations into streams in three eastern Kentucky counties. The discharge stretched for more than two miles. Attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful.