Save the Dunes and the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board to Host Public Meeting on U.S. Steel Proposed Consent Decree

Save the Dunes is partnering with the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board to host a public meeting scheduled for May 23, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, at the Ogden Dunes Firehouse located at 111 Hillcrest Rd, Ogden Dunes, IN 46368. The meeting will open with an overview of the Consent Decree with U.S. Steel; a discussion about the proposed comments that Save the Dunes, Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board, and other environmental organizations have developed and the reasoning behind them; and a review of how the public can comment individually. The remainder of the meeting will provide time for Q & A as well as an “open house” style forum for any residents or visitors to stop in and ask questions regarding the proposed Consent Decree and the public comment process. This event is open to all wanting more information.

“Our intention is to create a space where residents and visitors can discuss the proposed Consent Decree and consider what comments they may want to submit to the Department of Justice,” said Natalie Johnson, Executive Director of Save the Dunes. “We want to encourage our communities to express their thoughts and concerns about the proposed actions of the Consent Decree and begin to put them on paper to formally submit for review.”

The U.S. Steel Portage Facility violated the Clean Water Act last year when it illegally discharged wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway near Lake Michigan. The incident shut down public beaches from Gary to Michigan City for several days, closed public drinking water intakes, and endangered aquatic life. The proposed Consent Decree is meant to address the April 2017 spill, suggesting actions to bring U.S. Steel into compliance as well as request the payment of a civil penalty, reimbursement of response costs from agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. EPA, and other costs and damages as a result of the discharge.

“Indiana’s Lake Michigan and our Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are critical parts of our region’s identity, economic well-being, and quality of life,” said Johnson. “Our residents play a key role in ensuring that it remains protected — one way of doing so is participating in the public comment process.”

Due to pending litigation, representatives from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will not be present. However, more information can be found on the proposed Consent Decree as well as how to comment at:  www.in.gov/idem/airquality/2720.htm. After a request for extension, the new deadline for public comment is June 6.