News Feature | November 28, 2017

Chicago To Sue U.S. Steel Over Water Contamination

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


The city of Chicago took a stand against local water pollution when Mayor Rahm Emanuel threatened legal action against the United States Steel Corporation, one of the world’s largest steel producers, last week.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday threatened to sue U.S. Steel after one of the company’s northwest Indiana plants spilled toxic metal into a waterway less than 20 miles away from one of the city’s Lake Michigan water intakes,” the Chicago Tribune reported. “Emanuel’s decision to piggyback on a legal challenge filed last week by a University of Chicago law clinic is part of a concerted push by the Chicago Democrat to crack down on polluters as President Donald Trump moves to dramatically cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state enforcement efforts.”

The Indiana spill was the result of a wastewater system malfunction in late October, during which 56.7 pounds of chromium spilled into waterways that lead to Lake Michigan. The Tribune reported that the spill brought discharge that was 89 percent higher in the toxic substance than the plant’s permit allows.

During a press conference announcing his intent to sue, Mayor Emanuel took shots at President Trump and the U.S. EPA.

“The silence from the Trump EPA has led the city of Chicago to sue and to also shake up and wake up the EPA to their responsibilities,” he said, per the Tribune. “It’s unacceptable and it’s not an accident that U.S. Steel did not report the incident to the EPA, because they think that, in fact, there is nobody there that they are responsible or accountable to.”

For its part, U.S. Steel maintains that the spill has not threatened human health and initial reports indicated that Chicago has not found elevated levels of hexavalent chromium in its drinking water.

“With regard to the October 26 operation excursion at our Midwest Plant, we want to reiterate the event did not pose any danger to water supply or human health, and we promptly communicated the issue to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management,” U.S. Steel said in a statement, per The Times of Northwest Indiana.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "chicago," Matt B, 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: