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Tell the Department of Justice Additional Measures are Needed to Protect Lake Michigan

In April 2017, U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant Facility in Portage, IN reported a discharge of process wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into the Burns Waterway, 500 yards from Lake Michigan. A proposed Consent Decree, meant to ensure future compliance with regulatory laws, to reimburse costs for assessments and damages caused by the spill, and to impose a civil penalty, is now available for public comment. 

Save the Dunes believes the proposed penalties fall short and that additional measures are needed to ensure future protection of
Lake Michigan.

The information posted on this page reflects the opinions of Save the Dunes, but can be utilized as tools to aid you in the development of your own comments. Your voice matters! Please tell the Department of Justice to implement a stronger settlement that protects Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan. 

Submit your comments to the Department of Justice on or before June 6, 2018.

Where Can I find the Consent Decree and Additional Information?

Are there additional materials that can help me understand the Consent Decree?

Does Save the Dunes have a sample comment letter I can use to help me start my comments?

Sample Comment Letter

Please consider personalizing this letter. The above letter can be downloaded or copied and pasted into an email to help you get started with the comment process. We encourage you to change the wording, add what you like, and/or create your own.

What kinds of comments can I say?

Where do I send my public comment?

Anything! If you feel that the penalties weren't enough, say it! If you think something wasn't done effectively by the agencies overseeing U.S. Steel, say it! This is your opportunity to say anything and everything you want.

By Email: 

By Mail: 
Assistant Attorney General, U.S. DOJ—ENRD
P.O. Box 7611 Washington, D.C. 20044– 7611

Be sure to reference: United States et al v. United States Steel Corporation, D.J. Ref. No. 90–5–2–1–06476/2


What comments are Save the Dunes considering?

Additional measure Save the Dunes recommends include:

  • A higher financial penalty must be assessed to match the magnitude of the harm done to Lake Michigan and to be a significant deterrent against future violations. The Consent Decree includes a $600,000 civil penalty ($300,000 each to the US and Indiana), but under Clean Water Act policy they would be eligible for a maximum penalty of $6.5 million.
  • U.S. Steel should host open meetings to engage the public on compliance progress as well as provide compliance documentation. The public has the right to know more about what repairs have been made and how they are being evaluated.   
  • U.S. Steel should meet annually with local emergency planning committees to evaluate the effectiveness of response coordination.
  • A more robust spill prevention and maintenance plan is needed and should be subject to public comment. The initial plan submitted by US Steel is weak and lacking in detail. The plan needs to detail methods for inspecting equipment or structures; link inspection results to repair and corrective actions; and provide clear maintenance record keeping requirements as well as how training will be provided on the plan’s implementation.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) must respond and approve/disapprove plans and reports from U.S. Steel within thirty (30) days of receipt. Currently, there is no requirement for when EPA & IDEM are required to respond. Response should be swift to ensure continued compliance. 

See similar requests from Save the Dunes' partners the National Parks Conservation Association and Hoosier Environmental Council

Remember, the deadline to comment is June 6, 2018.

Please take part in the public comment process!

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