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U.S. Steel to pay $2.2 million, help communities affected by pollution

Staff Writer |
U.S. Steel Corporation (U. S. Steel) has agreed to resolve Clean Air Act litigation initiated by the United States and the three states.

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The United States, together with the states of Indiana and Illinois and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, announced that U. S. Steel Corporation (U. S. Steel) has agreed to resolve Clean Air Act litigation initiated by the United States and the three states in August 2012, by undertaking measures to reduce pollution at its three Midwest iron and steel manufacturing plants in Gary, Indiana; Ecorse, Michigan; and Granite City, Illinois.

As part of the agreement, U. S. Steel will perform seven supplemental environmental projects totaling $1.9 million, to protect human health and the environment in the communities affected by U. S. Steel’s pollution, including a project to remove lighting fixtures containing toxic chemicals in public schools.

In addition, U. S. Steel will expend $800,000 for an environmentally beneficial project to remove contaminated transformers at its Gary and Ecorse facilities and pay a $2.2 million civil penalty.

The agreement is memorialized in a consent decree lodged today in federal district court in the Northern District of Indiana.

Under the consent decree, U. S. Steel will immediately repair, and later replace, a bell top on a blast furnace used for making molten iron at its Great Lakes Works facility in Ecorse. The bell top, through which raw materials are placed inside the furnace, has a worn seal that is causing increased emissions of hazardous pollutants and particulate matter.

The new bell top is designed to eliminate those increased emissions. U. S. Steel will also implement improvements (following a third-party study) at its Great Lakes Works’ steel-making shop to reduce emissions causing opacity.

At its Gary Works facility, U. S. Steel will repair a large opening in a metal shell that surrounds a blast furnace. The repair will eliminate excess emissions from that furnace.

Since 2008, U. S. Steel has worked with the state of Illinois to improve its environmental compliance at the Granite City Works facility, including installation of a new baghouse to control particulate matter and rebuilding its Electro-Static Precipitator.

Under the consent decree, which resolves not only joint federal/state claims but also claims brought separately by the state of Illinois, U. S. Steel agrees to maintain the effective operation of its pollution control equipment and continue the work practices that have resulted in improved environmental compliance.

Many children in the Southwest Detroit, Ecorse and Gary areas attend schools that are lit by fluorescent ballasts that may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

As part of the settlement, U. S. Steel will conduct a joint federal/state supplemental environmental project (SEP) in which the company will remove and properly dispose of such PCB-contaminated ballasts and replace them with non-toxic, energy-efficient lighting.

U. S. Steel will also conduct another SEP to install vegetative buffers composed of trees, bushes and shrubs on public lands near high-traffic roadways in Southwest Detroit. Such buffers are intended to reduce the transport of particulate matter emissions from heavily trafficked areas and thus improve downwind air quality.

In addition, U. S. Steel will purchase a new street sweeper, equipped with enhanced collection capability, for use by the city of Granite City to reduce dust emissions.

Other SEPs, state-only, that U. S. Steel has agreed to undertake include the removal and proper disposal of waste tires that have been dumped at locations in Gary, replacement of some exterior doors in Granite City public schools with energy-efficient doors and creation of a greenway and transit bike trail within Granite City.

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