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News Releases from Region 05

EPA, DOJ and IDEM Reach Agreement with Gary, Ind., to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations

Contact Information: 
Peter Cassell (cassell.peter@epa.gov)

For Immediate Release: No. 16-OPA048

CHICAGO (Dec. 14, 2016) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, have reached an agreement with the city of Gary and the Gary Sanitary District that will resolve long-standing violations of the Clean Water Act, including the release of raw sewage. The city will pay a civil fine of $75,000 and take corrective steps starting immediately and continuing over the next 25 years to eliminate these problems.

“I am pleased that Mayor Freeman-Wilson is addressing this long-standing problem,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan. “This is an important step toward cleaning up Northwest Indiana’s waterways.”

 The agreement requires the city to take actions to manage sewer overflows over a 25-year period. The city must ensure the wastewater treatment plant sufficiently treats wastewater during all wet weather conditions. Gary will also develop a long-term control plan including steps to limit the occurrence of combined sewer overflows. As part of the agreement, the city will also remove invasive plants and restore native plants to an area along the Grand Calumet River, which has been affected by the contamination.

The agreement also addresses PCB contamination in an area known as the Ralston Street Lagoon. The lagoon was originally used during construction of the Indiana Toll Road. Later, it was used to dispose of PCB-contaminated sludge from the wastewater treatment plant, a violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. In 1988, the city stopped using the lagoon for sludge storage.

The city of Gary has 12 combined sewer outfalls: five discharge to the Little Calumet River and seven to the Grand Calumet River. When wastewater systems overflow, they can release untreated sewage and other pollutants into local waterways, threatening water quality and contributing to beach closures and health concerns. Untreated sewage contains bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause diseases.

For more information on combined sewer overflows, visit www.epa.gov/npdes/combined-sewer-overflows-csos.

For more information about the agreement, visit www.epa.gov/enforcement/gary-sanitary-district-and-city-gary-clean-water-settlement.