PORTAGE, Ind. (AP)
-- Environmental groups are urging northwest Indiana residents to comment on
a proposed federal settlement over a U.S. Steel plant’s discharging of a
hazardous chemical that entered a Lake Michigan tributary.
The public comment
period on the proposed settlement ends June 6, The (Northwest Indiana) Times
reported. Save the Dunes and the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board
will host a public meeting Wednesday about the settlement.
“This is the only
chance to influence this deal, which could affect water quality for the
community and the national park for years to come,” said Colin Deverell,
Midwest program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.
calls for U.S. Steel to pay nearly $900,000 in fines and penalties for
spills at its Midwest Plant in Portage, conduct daily tests for hexavalent
chromium, create a preventive maintenance program and upgrade pollution
doesn’t go far enough, Deverell said. The company should release
documentation to show the steps that have already been taken to prevent more
spills, he said.
“The public cannot
make informed comments about what more is needed without knowing what U.S.
Steel is doing and how they are collecting and reporting their progress to
avoid future spills,” Deverell said.
Foundation and the city of Chicago have both criticized the settlement for
being unfair and inadequate. Both groups sued U.S. Steel in January, but
have put the lawsuits on hold.
The proposal is
vague about U.S. Steel’s commitments and allows for the steelmaker to make
many decisions in future proposals, said Surfrider attorney Rob Weinstock.
One spill in April
2017 resulted in almost 300 pounds of hexavalent chromium dumped into the
Burns Waterway, which feeds into Lake Michigan. The plant’s hexavalent
chromium discharge is limited to about half a pound a day.
The toxic heavy
metal might be carcinogenic if ingested, according to the EPA.