About a year ago, U.S Steel spilled hexavalent chromium into a tributary of Lake Michigan. As a result of the spill, four beaches were closed in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. A plume of hexavalent chromium drifted close to one of the places where Chicago gets its drinking water, causing the city to spend $75,000 monitoring the situation. Indiana American Water was very concerned about tainted water, so they shut down a well at Ogden Dunes.
U.S. Steel has agreed to do things to make up for their mistakes. They have agreed to pay a civil penalty that is about $600,000.00, revamp their wastewater monitoring system, give $240,500 to the National Park Service and give money to other government agencies.
U.S. Steel is currently being held up to certain standards in an effort to keep future pollution events from happening. By April 15th, they must develop a plan for wastewater management and send it to the IDEM and EPA. By June 15th, they must repair a concrete containment trench.
The spill happened on April 11th, 2017. Soon after, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the EPA inspected the plant and found numerous violations.
According to Paul Labovitz, the Indiana Dunes National Park Superintendent, it is a good thing that the spill didn’t happen during beach season. If it happened during beach season, people would have been bathing in toxic waters.
Hexavalent chromium was made famous by the movie “Erin Brokovich,” a biographical film about a spill.