Frequently Asked Questions
All of U. S. Steel’s statements on the matter can be found HERE, as well as details of the company’s proposed consent decree to resolve issues at the Midwest Plant.
In summary, the following corrective actions were taken:
- Equipment repairs were made, including the replacement of the piping to the chrome water treatment system as well as the repair and coating of the containment trench.
- A comprehensive evaluation of the wastewater systems at the facility was conducted. This resulted in the development and implementation of an enhanced monitoring plan and the installation of additional monitoring systems and alarms that will expedite the identification of potential future complications.
- An operating and maintenance manual was developed for the water treatment systems, which requires additional employee training and enhanced maintenance policies. The approved 2018 edition can be found here:https://www.in.gov/idem/cleanwater/files/us_steel_decree_wwt_manual_revised.pdf
- More frequent water sampling and analysis are now conducted at the water treatment systems associated outfalls.
U. S. Steel has completed the corrective actions listed above, many of which are intended to ensure long-term improvements in environmental performance at the plant.
In addition to the completed repairs, the following recurring enhancements are ongoing:
- Additional water sampling and analysis at the facility;
- Improved notification procedures for potential unforeseen issues at the plant; and
- Increased employee training and equipment maintenance procedures.
The leadership team at the plant will also complete an environmentally beneficial project designed to monitor and report on water quality at seven locations along Lake Michigan’s Indiana shoreline, as outlined under the current draft of the consent decree.
The company will pay $1,232,475 in civil penalties and costs to entities including the State of Indiana, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The company has also agreed to stipulated penalties for future potential violations of the terms of the consent decree, the compliance requirements of the consent decree or the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Water quality standards are set by the state through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and are intended to protect both public health and aquatic life. All water discharges are regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which was established under the Clean Water Act. Limits are put on parameters that may have a reasonable potential to exceed water quality standards, or to ensure compliance with technology standards for the iron and steel industry. Technology standards have been developed by the EPA and apply to specific processes within the mill.
The facility has expanded its notification requirements in the event of a spill or release. Additionally, this microsite was developed to provide timely updates for the public.
Water discharges are governed under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which was established under the Clean Water Act.
Air emissions are covered under Title V of the Clean Air Act.
Solid and hazardous waste are regulated under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Spills and Releases are covered under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right – To-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Indiana Spill Rule.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is primarily responsible for enforcement efforts at the Midwest Plant related to clean water, air and waste management. This power was granted to the agency by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provides oversight to IDEM, and whose mission is to protect human health and the environment.
Environmental stewardship is a core value at U. S. Steel, and we take our responsibility for the safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate very seriously.
We are confident that the corrective actions described above, as well our improved monitoring and alerting systems and employee training and equipment maintenance requirements, will greatly mitigate the potential for environmental performance issues at our Midwest Plant.
We are committed to continuous analysis and improvements at all our facilities, including the Midwest Plant.