U.S. Steel Corporation To Pay EPA $600K For Damages Caused By 2017 Toxic Chromium Spill

Washington – The United States, together with the State of Indiana, announced today that U. S. Steel Corporation (U. S. Steel) has agreed to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and Indiana law by undertaking substantial measures to improve its wastewater processing monitoring system at its steel manufacturing and finishing facility, known as the Midwest Plant, in Portage, Indiana.

The settlement agreement, which is memorialized in a consent decree lodged today in federal district court in the Northern District of Indiana, requires U. S. Steel to pay more than $600,000 as a civil penalty and to reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Park Service (NPS) for response costs incurred as a result of an April 2017 spill of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium that entered a waterway that flows into Lake Michigan. U. S. Steel will also pay costs to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for assessing natural resource damages due to the April 2017 spill.  In addition, U. S. Steel will pay damages to NPS resulting from the closure of several beaches along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore due to the spill.

  1. S. Steel will also resolve allegations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) by implementing a detailed protocol to notify relevant state and local authorities about any future spills from its Portage facility to the ground or water.

“Lake Michigan and the surrounding waterways are treasured resources worthy of protection from harmful pollution. Today’s settlement with U. S. Steel appropriately penalizes the company for last year’s wastewater spill, recoups the government’s response costs and other losses, and requires significant actions by the company to prevent toxic spills like this from occurring again,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  This settlement is a prime example of how federal and state counterparts can work hand-in-hand to enforce environmental laws to protect the health of our citizens and the environment.”

“We are pleased that U. S. Steel has agreed to take the appropriate measures to protect and restore the waterways that were harmed by its spill that occurred in April 2017,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II for the Northern District of Indiana. “This settlement is a win for the people of Indiana, and we are happy to have worked with our state and federal partners to achieve this result.”

“EPA is committed to fostering strong partnerships to achieve water quality goals,” said Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “I am pleased that through the coordinated effort of federal and state agencies, and with the cooperation of U. S. Steel, this settlement will help protect Lake Michigan and Indiana waterways.”

“One of NOAA’s roles is to assess and restore natural resources after oil spills, ship groundings and releases of hazardous chemicals,” said Assistant NOAA Administrator for the W. Russell Callender National Ocean Service. “This settlement allows NOAA and its federal and state partners to protect natural resources and recreational opportunities important to the people and economy of Indiana and the Great Lakes.”

The full press release is available at justice.gov.

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