SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): United States Steel Corporation (US Steel) has announced that it has completely restarted operations at its Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana. The plant had been shut temporarily following an incident of chemical leak. The company had initiated the controlled, phased restart of the plant on Friday, April 14.
According to federal authorities, the US Steel facility leaked an unknown amount of cancer-causing chemical into a canal located just 100 yards from Lake Michigan. The company had stated that the spill was caused by a pipe failure that caused the chemical to flow into the wrong waste water treatment plant at the site complex. Also, the company had immediately stopped all production processes at the plant and had taken all necessary steps to mitigate the impact of a potential spill, including repair of the damaged pipe and recovery of the material.
Further to notification by the US Steel authorities, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out extensive water sampling efforts. However, the sampling failed to detect hexavalent chromium from the spill in Lake Michigan. The testing had found that the chemical was at less than the 2 parts per billion federal threshold in both Lake Michigan and the Burns Waterway. Meantime, as part of caution, Indiana American Water in Ogden Dunes had stopped its water intake from Lake Michigan.
In a company statement, US Steel noted that the restart process is now complete and that it has not encountered any issues so far. The company has carried out detailed visual inspections and water sampling at all likely affected areas including Lake Michigan, the public water intake and adjacent shorelines. None of the tests has shown elevated hexavalent chromium levels, the company noted. Further, the statement assured that additional environmental safeguards will be introduced at the plant facility shortly. Incidentally, hexavalent chromium is a toxic byproduct of industrial processes which could be carcinogenic if ingested.
Further to the announcement, Indiana American Water’s Ogden Dunes water plant has resumed drawing water from Lake Michigan.
The company’s Midwest Plant is situated about 10 miles east of Gary in Portage, IN. The finishing facility operates as part of Gary Works facility- the company’s largest manufacturing plant with an annual raw steelmaking capability of 7.5 million net tons, situated on the south shore of Lake Michigan. The principal products from the plant include tin mill products and hot-dip galvanized, cold-rolled and electrical lamination steels.
United States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in North America and Central Europe and an annual raw steelmaking capability of 24.4 million net tons. The company manufactures a wide range of value-added steel sheet and tubular products for the automotive, appliance, container, industrial machinery, construction, and oil and gas industries.