Join us in Creating a Culture of Pollution Prevention in Northwest Indiana-
Enough is Enough!
Update from IDEM on US Steel (10/13/2021): IDEM's Inspection Summary and Enforcement Referral determined that the violations observed at US Steel's plant related to discharges, operations and maintenance will be referred to the US EPA, US DOJ and the IDEM Office of Water Quality Enforcement Section. US Steel must respond to concerns outlined in the inspection summary by detailing corrective actions and/or a plan to ensure future compliance. Read the Inspection Summary and Enforcement Referral here.
Once again, the citizens of Indiana are forced to cope with another major industrial discharge emergency that pollutes our waters and adversely impacts our natural resources, including our drinking water and only national park. The latest pollution incident from U.S. Steel comes just days after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) renewed for another five years the facility’s wastewater discharge (NPDES) permit and only weeks after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana approved a consent decree intended to prevent future illegal discharges from this plant.
In both cases, concerned citizens and organizations have labored to provide sound, technically feasible recommendations to improve the permit and consent decree through public hearings and written comments. Unfortunately, the result was the same: our comments were largely rejected, and Indiana faces yet another environmental emergency from a billion-dollar company operating on the shores of one of the most precious freshwater lakes in the world. We’ve been down this road before. Enough is enough.
This event is the latest in a long string of water pollution incidents, including the catastrophic release of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium by U.S. Steel in 2017, the cyanide and ammonia release and fish kill at ArcelorMittal (now Cleveland-Cliffs) in 2019, and hundreds of other events that occur with disturbing regularity. Since January 2017, U.S. Steel alone has been responsible for more than two dozen permit violations. These water pollution events compound a long history of environmental impacts across Northwest Indiana, including those in the lands of East Chicago and air quality across the region, which have most negatively impacted communities of color and low-income communities due to their close proximity to many of the region’s industrial facilities.
Once again our beaches are closed, drinking water intakes shut down, and we are left asking why this keeps happening.
The citizens of Indiana deserve better. Take action to demand change!
We urge you to send a letter to the Indiana state leadership expressing your outrage, frustration, deep disappointment, and exasperation. Although the latest incident turned out to be excessive iron and did not pose severe health risks or environmental impacts, there is a very real possibility that it could have been, and next time will be, something more toxic.
Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and IDEM Commissioner Pigott today! You can copy and paste the content of the letter linked here and send via email or mail. You can also use this language if you decide to call.
Make Your Voice Heard! What Else Can You Do?
There are many leaders across the state who need to hear from you on this. We need to be persistent, and consistent in our efforts to spread this message far and wide!
We urge you to contact as many of the individuals below as you can. You can use language from the letter linked above, but remember it is also important to add in your personal story and include how you have been impacted by these repeated assaults on our natural resources.
Sample Call Script:
In light of the most recent event at US Steel, I demand that you immediately undertake the following:
- Heighten scrutiny and enforcement against chronic polluters, including much higher fines;
- Strengthen pollution control and communications requirements in future NPDES permit renewals;
- Strengthen support for IDEM, including significantly higher funding, to retain and attract top quality staff, and enable the department to carry out its duties to control and reduce industrial pollution entering our waterways; and,
- Pursue a wide-ranging review of the efficacy of IDEM’s NPDES permitting process.
Action 1: Contact Governor Holcomb - Call 317-232-4567 or
Action 2: Contact your state and federal leadership
Action 3: Contact the majority and minority leadership in the Indiana House and Senate
IN State Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer
Call 317-232-9400 or Email
IN State Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor
Call 317-232-9427 or
IN General Assembly Majority Leader Matt Lehman
Call 317-234-9380 or
IN General Assembly Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta
Call 317-232-9628 or
Action 4: Contact IDEM and EPA Leadership
Call 317-232-8611 or
IDEM Northwest Regional Office Interim
Director Robert Lugar
Call 317-234-6019 or
EPA Region 5 Acting Director
Call 312-353-6730 or