Punish U.S. Steel for Repeated Toxic Chromium Spills

Target: Michael Shapiro, Administrator at the EPA’s Office of Water

Goal: Punish steel producers for repeated spills of toxic heavy metals which threaten wildlife and public health.

In late October, the U.S. Steel facility in the city of Portage, Indiana experienced a chemical spill which resulted in the release of 57 pounds of chromium. Portage is on the shores of Lake Michigan and environmentalists are concerned about the effects of this potentially toxic heavy metal on both Lake Michigan’s delicate ecosystem and on the health of people who get their drinking water from the lake.

This chromium spill occurred just six months after an even more catastrophic chemical spill at the same U.S. Steel plant. During another recent spill, almost 300 pounds of hexavalent chromium were released into a tributary that led directly to Lake Michigan. Hexavalent chromium is a more toxic form of chromium. While trace amounts of trivalent chromium are needed for optimal human health, hexavalent chromium is a potent carcinogen. Hexavalent chromium has been linked with increased total cancer mortality, and specifically with increased risk of stomach, kidney, and liver cancers.

It has yet to be determined how much of the recent spill was the carcinogenic chromium. However, it seems highly likely that the spill contained at least some — the spill occurred from a pipe that is directly linked to equipment that processes hexavalent chromium-containing wastewater. Sign this petition to urge the EPA’s Office of Water to punish U.S. Steel for violations of water pollution regulations.


Dear Mr. Shapiro,

U.S. Steel has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act, with two large chromium spills at one facility in 2017 alone. Hexavalent chromium has unequivocally been shown to cause cancer in humans and animals. The spills have occurred only 20 miles from a water intake pipe in Lake Michigan, and they may threaten the health of everyone who gets their drinking water from this intake pipe.

U.S. Steel failed to notify the National Response Center, which is involved in monitoring oil and chemical spills. Although Indiana state officials were notified of the spill, U.S. Steel requested that the spill be kept confidential and indeed it was several days before the public was notified of the spill. U.S. Steel has still not faced significant penalties for the spill of carcinogenic chromium that occurred in April.

U.S. Steel must be held accountable. We cannot allow this company to endanger the health of millions of Americans who get their water from Lake Michigan. I ask that you and your colleagues at the Office of Water do all that you can to impose real punishments on U.S. Steel.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: David Pirmann

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  1. Not only punish (fines, imprisonment?), but STOP it from continuing!

  2. Rosslyn Osborne says:

    Bahá’u’lláh describes the fate of those whose lives demonstrate a heedlessness of spiritual values and a failure to act in conformity with such values. He comments:…ye walk on My earth complacent and self-satisfied, heedless that My earth is weary of you and everything within it shunneth you. Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds. Baha’i Faith Writings

  3. Robert Heinrich says:

    My father was the Coast Guard CMDR of Pittsburg, PA. He had to close US OIL for dumping oil in the Ohio River in 1972. This current event shows money is still over rating lives. I hope that someone in our Government can start using common sense and stop these polluting events.

  4. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    illegalize the ecocide.

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