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U.S. Steel Has Fourth Spill This Year Right After Issuing Revised Consent Decree

Galina Ovtcharova & Alexei Ovtcharov

U.S. Steel’s northwest Indiana facility had its fourth spill this year into a Lake Michigan waterway. The company reported the release to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Wednesday night, the same day the government and U.S. Steel posted their revised consent decree

That decree details how the company will make up for spilling 300 pounds of the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium two years ago.

An official with U.S. Steel says a small amount of iron didn’t settle out in the plant’s treatment facility and got discharged into the Burns Waterway — which turned the wastewater a brown color. Though the water isn’t supposed to be brown, the company says it did not violate its permit limits for iron flock and solids.

U.S. Steel says the release also had no impact to human health and the environment. IDEM and the company are working to investigate the cause of the spill.

So far this year, U.S. Steel has had spills on Aug. 20, Sept. 6, Oct. 30, as well as this latest one on Nov. 20. 

Contact Rebecca at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.