In late October, nearly 60 pounds of chromium leaked into a Lake Michigan tributary after a wastewater treatment system malfunctioned at the U.S. Steel factory in northwest Indiana. It was the second time it’s happened in the past six months.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says U.S. Steel tried to keep the spill a secret, requesting “confidential treatment” while reporting it to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and never notifying the EPA. Emanuel says the company has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act, and the City will take the first step towards filing a lawsuit against it Monday morning.
"Not only was the discharge way in excess of what is permitted. It happened twice," Emanuel said. "In every area they’re in violation. Now you have to ask, 'what is the company thinking about,' and then more importantly, 'what is the Trump EPA doing?'" Emanuel said.
Emanuel said the lawsuit is part of an effort to protect Lake Michigan for residents.
"Lake Michigan is our most precious natural resource; we have a responsibility to preserve it, we have a responsibility to protect it and we must pursue and punish those who pollute it," Emanuel said.
Emanuel also said that while there was a spill of toxic chemicals, drinking water in Chicago remains safe.
U.S. Steel released the following statement:
“U. S. Steel is committed to complying with all environmental standards, to ensuring the safety of our employees and our neighbors in the communities in which we live and operate, and to safeguarding our shared environment. We take that responsibility very seriously and recognize this as a critical aspect of our role as a member of each community in which we operate. We also take every incident seriously. We have worked with appropriate government agencies in the past as effectively as possible and continue those efforts as part of our work to continuously improve our environmental compliance processes.”
“With regard to the October 26 operating excursion at our Midwest Plant, we want to reiterate the event did not pose any danger to water supply or human health, and we promptly communicated the issue to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).”