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.
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.