U.S. Files Suit Against U.S. Steel and DuPont in Indiana

[EPA press release - February 19, 1971]

The United States Justice Department, acting on information supplied by the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Indiana, and a local citizens group, today filed suits against the U.S. Steel Corporation and the DuPont Corporation for alleged pollution of Lake Michigan and the Grand Calumet River.

The civil suit filed in Federal District Court in Hammond, Indiana, against U.S. Steel seeks a court injunction against the company's Gary, Indiana, operations for the discharge of wastes to both Lake Michigan and the Grand Calumet, a Lake Michigan tributary. The action was filed under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

The civil action against DuPont is for alleged pollution from its manufacturing plant in East Chicago, Indiana, of the Grand Calumet River.

William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the EPA, praised the actions of the Justice Department, saying:

"These suits by Attorney General John Mitchell, prepared with the assistance of our agency, the State of Indiana, and a private citizens groups, typifies the cooperative spirit that is being developed in the common fight against water pollution."

The Administrator was particularly pleased with the fact that a Calumet area citizens group, Independent Citizens Water Pollution Research, Inc., helped provide information on which the suit is based against DuPont. He congratulated the group "for its cooperation and vigilance in providing Federal authorities with valuable information in this case."

He added, "Information developed by the EPA's Regional Water Quality Office in Chicago and by the State of Indiana was forwarded to the Justice Department of use in the suits."

Ruckelshaus said that the court injunction sought against U.S. Steel's Gary operations is to halt the continued discharge of iron, oil, suspended and unsuspended solids, cyanide, phenols, ammonia nitrogen, and other wastes to Lake Michigan and the Grant Calumet.

"The intent of this suit," the EPA Administrator said, "is not to close down U.S. Steel's operations during court proceedings but rather to obtain a legally enforceable implementation plan from the court to abate pollution."

He noted that a two-count criminal information case under the 1899 Refuse Act is pending in Federal District Court in Hammond against U.S. Steel in Gary for two pollution incidents which occurred in 1967.

The civil action filed against the DuPont plant in East Chicago under the 1899 Refuse Act is based on alleged contamination of the Grand Calumet with dissolved iron, sulphates, dissolved and undissolved solids, chlorides, and acids, Ruckelshaus said.

An earlier Federal criminal action under the Refuse Act against the same DuPont plant resulted in a fine of $2,500 being levied against the firm.