Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Chicago, Surfers Sue U.S. Steel


The City of Chicago has joined a local surfing group in suing U.S. Steel for a number of toxic chromium spills into Lake Michigan last year. The Surfrider Foundation, now with Chicago, has sued U.S. Steel for failing to notify the City of Chicago about three spills near drinking water intakes at the company’s Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana, thus repeatedly violating the federal Clean Water Act.

“This Great Lake is our most precious natural resource and we must preserve and protect it while taking steps to punish those who pollute it,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as U.S. Steel repeatedly disregards and violates federal laws and puts our greatest natural resource at risk."

Hexavalent chromium is a highly toxic pollutant that boaters might recognize from the movie “Erin Brockovich.” Last April, the city discovered a 298-pound spill of chromium after detecting the chemical near one of its water intakes. There were also two other unreported spills.

At the moment, the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management are working on brokering a legal settlement with U.S. Steel that they say is intended to prevent future spills. 

[Photo from Flickr/Roman Boed.]

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