Monday, October 19, 2009

EPA Withdraws Objections To U.S. Steel's Gary Works NPDES Permit

Oct 15: U.S. EPA Region 5 withdrew its earlier objections to a 2007 version of Indiana's wastewater discharge permit for U.S. Steel's Gary Works [See WIMS 11/24/07]. EPA is withholding final judgment on the new draft permit until Indiana Department of Environmental Management's 45-day comment period, including a November 18 public hearing, is completed and all comments considered. On October 14, IDEM proposed a revised draft permit for the steel mill that addresses objections raised by EPA in October 2007. The new draft permit requires lower discharge levels than currently allowed for a number of pollutants including ammonia, metals, organic compounds and suspended solids. No pollutants can be discharged at a higher rate than the current permit allows.

EPA had formally objected to parts of the proposed 2007 IDEM permit and advised IDEM that those concerns would need to be fully resolved before any permit could be issued. In December 2007, EPA held a public hearing in Northwest Indiana to solicit more public input. Since that time, EPA has worked closely with IDEM to address both EPA's and the public's concerns. EPA has concluded that the revised draft now meets or exceeds all applicable Federal and state requirements. However, the revised draft permit also warrants a thorough public review and comment period.

The Clean Water Act requires facilities that discharge into the "waters of the United States" to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit which sets limits on pollutants to protect public health and the environment. U.S. Steel Gary Works discharges water used in its operations into both the Grand Calumet River and Lake Michigan. It is the largest fully-integrated steel mill in North America.

Access a release from EPA (
click here). Access more information and background from EPA (click here). Access an IDEM fact sheet (click here).