U. S. Steel Corporation Consent Decree
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August 30, 2021 - The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond, Indiana entered the revised consent decree to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and other federal and state statutes by U. S. Steel at its Midwest Plant in northwest Indiana. Now, all of the decree’s requirements, including implementation of key operation and maintenance plans and an improved wastewater process monitoring system, will be enforceable by the regulatory agencies as an order of the Court.
On November 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service (NPS) of the United States Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and the State of Indiana (State), on behalf of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (Governments), jointly filed a motion to enter the revised consent decree to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and other federal and state statutes by U. S. Steel at its Midwest Plant in northwest Indiana.
After lodging the proposed consent decree in April 2018, the Governments received approximately 2,700 public comments, including extensive comments from the City of Chicago and the Surfrider Foundation (plaintiff intervenors in the Governments’ action). The public comments are specifically addressed in the United States’ Response to Comments attached to the memorandum in support of the Governments’ motion to enter the decree.
Having taken those comments into account, the Governments, with the concurrence of U. S. Steel, revised the proposed decree to strengthen and broaden U. S. Steel’s public and stakeholder notification procedures in the event of a spill or release to ground, soil or water. The revised decree also includes an environmentally beneficial project to be overseen by Indiana that requires water quality testing and reporting by U. S. Steel of pollutants at several shore locations along Lake Michigan near the Indiana Dunes National Park, at an estimated cost of $600,000 over three years.
U. S. Steel has already complied with several requirements of the proposed decree that was lodged in April 2018, including enhanced daily wastewater sampling, even though the decree has not been in effect. The proposed consent decree would also require U. S. Steel to pay a civil penalty of $601,242, to be split evenly between the United States and the State. In addition, the decree requires U. S. Steel to fully reimburse EPA’s response costs ($350,653), the NPS’s response costs ($12,564) and calculation of damages resulting from beach closures ($240,504), and NOAA’s natural resource damage assessment costs ($27,512) – all incurred in connection with a hexavalent chromium spill at the plant in April 2017.
The Governments appreciate the role that the City of Chicago and the Surfrider Foundation have played in the Governments’ action and in providing constructive comments on the proposed (and revised) consent decree. The decree resolves the bulk of the violations alleged by the City of Chicago and the Surfrider Foundation in their separate citizen suit complaint against U. S. Steel.
- U.S. Steel Midwest Consent Decree, March 15, Semi-Annual Report (pdf) (3/15/2022)
- August 30, 2021, U.S. District Court order granting the United States of America’s motion to enter the revised consent decree (pdf)
- Plaintiffs Motion to Enter Consent Decree, Attachment A Consent Decree, and Attachment B comparison showing changes to original decree - Nov. 2019
- Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion to Enter Revised Consent Decree - Nov. 20, 2019
- Response to Comments
- U.S. Steel Midwest Consent Decree "Semi-Annual Report" (9/15/2019)
- U.S. Steel Midwest Consent Decree “ Semi-Annual Report” (3/15/2019)
- Approval of Revised Enhanced Wastewater Process Monitoring Design (12/28/2018)
- Approval of Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventive Maintenance Program Plan (12/28/2018)
- U. S. Steel Consent Decree Revised Submittal "Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventive Maintenance Program Plan" and Supporting Standard Operating Procedures (11/14/2018)
- U. S. Steel Consent Decree Revised Submittal "Enhanced Wastewater Process Monitoring Design" (revised 12/21/2018)
- U.S. Steel Midwest Consent Decree “ Semi-Annual Report” (9/14/2018)
- U. S. Steel Consent Decree Initial Submittal "Enhanced Wastewater Process Monitoring Design" (6/29/2018)
- U. S. Steel Consent Decree Revised Submittal "Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventive Maintenance Program Plan" (6/26/2018)
- Partial Disapproval of Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventive Maintenance Program (5/30/2018)
- U.S. Steel Consent Decree Initial Submittal “Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventative Maintenance Program Plan” (4/13/2018)
- Transmittal Letter Re: United States Steel Corporation ("U. S. Steel"), Midwest Plant, Portage, Indiana: Wastewater Treatment O&M Manual and Preventative Maintenance Program Plan (4/13/2018)
- Federal Register Notice: Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree under the Clean Water Act (4/6/2018)
- U. S. Steel Corporation Agrees to Improve Environmental Compliance at Indiana Facility, Pay Civil Penalty, and Reimburse U.S. for Response Costs and Damages for Toxic Chromium Spill (4/2/2018)
- Filed Complaint (4/2/2018)
- Lodged Consent Decree (4/2/2018)
- Letter Subject: Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Follow Up Notification Letter Incident date: April 11, 2017 (2/2/2018)
- EPA Inspection Report (5/4/2017)
The following links exit the site
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Virtual File Cabinet (discharge monitoring reports, state inspection reports, and other compliance and permit-related documents) To view the information, you must pass the "robot test" and then click "search."
- IDEM U.S. Steel Consent Decree Related Documents (Press release, lodging, consent decree, etc.)