U.S. Steel Corporation has agreed to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws in the state of Indiana stemming from two incidents in April and October of 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
An agreement was filed April 2 in the Hammond Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana between U.S. Steel Corp., the federal government and the state of Indiana regarding water violations at U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant in Portage, Ind.
The settlement agreement requires U.S. Steel to pay more than $600,000 as a civil penalty and to reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service 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.
“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 Kirsch II, of 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.”
In October 2017, U.S. Steel experienced another wastewater discharge containing a less toxic form of chromium.
Under the consent decree that sets forth the terms of the agreement, the Midwest Plant will undertake substantial measures to improve operations in order to minimize the possibility for reoccurrence of similar incidents at the facility. U.S. Steel has agreed to improve its wastewater processing monitoring system at its steel manufacturing and finishing facility in Portage.
U.S. Steel said in a release that it will comply with the set of deliverables outlined in the agreement, ensuring that the commitment made to federal and state agencies is fulfilled while safeguarding the community and our shared natural resources.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker added that it is taking numerous steps to improve upon environmental standards. These include installing a new wastewater piping system and completing containment trench repairs, implementing new spill notification procedures, redeveloping the company’s comprehensive wastewater operations and maintenance plan, implementing a more comprehensive preventive maintenance program plan, and identifying and evaluating available enhanced wastewater monitoring systems that would promote early detection and alert the company of any potential incidents.