Chicago Announces Intent to Sue U.S. Steel

The city responds to chromium spills and alleged Clean Water Act violations

U.S. Steel faces lawsuit

In a press conference Nov. 19, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city of Chicago will file a "Notice of Intent" to sue U.S. Steel for repeated violations of the Clean Water Act. After the notice is filed, U.S. Steel will have 60 days to respond before the city is legally allowed to file a suit. The "Notice of Intent" is a direct response to two spills of the chemical chromium into Lake Michigan— one in late October and a larger spill in April.

This notice follows another "Notice of Intent" to sue U.S. Steel filed Nov. 13 by the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit supporting Lake Michigan surfers, represented by the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago. Surfrider Foundation’s Chicago Chapter Chair Mitch McNeil said, “We want to bring about real and lasting positive change to the way U.S. Steel co-exists with the inhabitants of the community and recreational users of the lake.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, placed blame on both U.S. Steel and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

At the Nov. 19 press conference, Emanuel said, “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,” Emanuel continued. “Chicago will fight against that mindset.”

In a statement released the same day by U.S. Steel, in response to the spills the company claimed, “U.S. Steel is committed to complying with all environmental standards, to ensuring the safety of our employees and our neighbors in the communities in which we live and operate, and to safeguarding our shared environment.” Mayor Emanuel insisted drinking water in Chicago remains safe and that the "Notice of Intent" serves to prevent further contamination to the Lake.

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