USX Corp. will pay about $34 million in penalties and cleanup costs for dumping wastewater from its Gary, Ind., steel mill, under an agreement announced by federal officials.
"We believe this consent decree is a major victory for the much-abused Grand Calumet River," said Ralph R. Bauer, deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "We expect this decree to provide a framework for improvement and cleanup at the USX plant."The out-of-court settlement resolves a 1988 lawsuit filed by the federal government alleging that the Gary mill exceeded wastewater discharge limits in the river.
Under the agreement announced by the EPA and the U.S. attorney's office for northern Indiana, the company will pay $1.6 million in civil penalties and an estimated $25 million to improve equipment and develop a comprehensive wastewater management plan.
The company has also agreed to pay $2.5 million on a study to determine the extent of sediment contamination in the Grand Calumet in northern Indiana. An additional $5 million will be allocated to clean up whatever contamination is found.
"This is a consent decree," said George Kuebler, a spokesman for USX's Gary mill. "There are no admissions to any allegations. The evidence that we are committed to the environment can be seen by agreeing to this decree which calls for spending beyond what is statutorily required."
Dale S. Bryson of the regional EPA office said the agreement ranks among the top 10 settlements ever reached by the EPA.