The Great Lakes are a critical contributor to Indiana’s economy, environment, and quality of life. Our precious Lake Michigan provides drinking water, recreational opportunities, as well as many jobs to our region. It also is the lifeblood of the Indiana dunes and our National Lakeshore—the reason for our precious landscape to exist as it does, and the reason so many of us choose to live here. Save the Dunes is committed to Lake Michigan and the Indiana dunes’ protection, but we need your help.
The U.S. Steel Portage Facility violated the Clean Water Act last April and again in October when it illegally discharged wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway near Lake Michigan. The toxic and carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich, shut down public beaches from Gary to Michigan City for several days, closed public drinking water intakes, and endangered aquatic life. Many residents were unaware of the spill or found out well after the fact, suggesting that there is room for communication improvements.
Unfortunately, these are not U.S. Steel’s only recent violations of the Clean Water Act. Other violations unrelated to hexavalent chromium, but still violations that threaten our Lake Michigan, have taken place. Over the last five years, U.S. Steel has violated the federal Clean Water Act over 50 times— many being repeat violations. Certainly, enough is enough. Our communities must insist that U.S. Steel make real changes to its maintenance and operation practices in order to stop putting Lake Michigan and public health at risk.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have the authority and responsibility to address these issues, and are currently pursuing action. Yet, it is critical for us to speak up and let these agencies know just how much we are counting on them to take strong, meaningful action and hold U.S. Steel accountable for its violations and to ensure U.S. Steel’s compliance in the future. Northwest Indiana residents must take action and let the U.S. EPA and IDEM know that we want accountability. Therefore, Save the Dunes requests that residents and lovers of Lake Michigan and our National Lakeshore raise our voices by participating in this petition to U.S. EPA Region 5 Acting Administrator, Robert Kaplan, and IDEM Commissioner, Bruno L. Pigott, asking to firmly hold accountable U.S. Steel for its actions now and in the future.