US Steel Joins BP In Polluting Lake Michigan


US Steel, Gary Indiana

The questionably named Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which should be still smarting from its BP Whiting Refinery scandal (TreeHugger here and here) is handing out permits to pollute again, this time to US Steel's mill in Gary, Indiana. According to the Chicago Tribune, Indiana is moving to scrap, relax or omit limits on toxic chemicals and heavy metals dumped into a Lake Michigan tributary.

Specifically, U.S. Steel reports discharging oil and grease, lead, arsenic, benzene, fluoride and nitrates from waste-water pipes at the mill, yet the draft permit fails to limit emissions of these pollutants at all discharge points.

The Tribune continues:

The permit also relaxes the limits on chromium, a heavy metal that builds up in fish over time. In humans, long-term exposure can damage the liver, kidneys and nervous system. The average allowable amount of chromium discharged from one waste-water pipe into the Grand Calumet would increase by 62 percent, to 17,702 pounds a year, and the permit does not require U.S. Steel to curb discharges from other pipes.

For other pollutants, regulators agreed to give U.S. Steel an additional five years to meet federal standards that have been on the books for more than a decade. Mercury, cyanide, ammonia, zinc, copper and a chemical called benzo(a)pyrene fall into that category.

Citizens are frustrated by the State. "This permit is indecipherable," said John Crayton, a Chesterton, Ind., physician. "They tell me I'm going to get some answers, but I'm still waiting." ::Chicago Tribune

Tags: Chicago | Pollution

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