Steel Mills

USS Midwest Plant Temporarily Stopped on Wastewater Concerns

Written by Michael Cowden

U.S. Steel has temporarily halted operations at its Midwest Plant because of discolored wastewater discharged from its Portage, Ind., finishing facility.

“The Midwest Plant was shut down as a precaution, and we continue to coordinate with agencies to collect additional samples to monitor the situation,” a company spokeswoman said in an email to Steel Market Update on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

US SteelIt was not immediately clear on Tuesday afternoon when the faciltiy would resume operations.

Midwest Plant typically discharges treated wastewater into local waterways. But the discoloration became the subject of local media reports and resulted in beaches along the Indiana Dunes National Park being closed for swimming as a precaution.

“Analysis of the water from the outfall taken during the time of the incident showed elevated concentrations of iron causing the discoloration. There are no indications of permit level exceedances for hexavalent and total chromium, as those sampling results came in well below permit limits,” the spokeswoman said.

Midwest Plant makes tin mill products, cold-rolled coil, hot-dipped galvanized product, and electrical lamination steels. Its primary markets are automotive, construction, container and electrical markets, according to the company’s website

The concern over hexavalent chromium, which is used in the tinning process, comes because it can cause certain cancers. The chemical also entered the popular culture through the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich.

U.S. Steel previously halted operations at Midwest Plant in April 2017 when a similar incident, that one involving hexavalent chromium, occurred.

Midwest Plant is part of U.S. Steel’s Gary Works in northwest Indiana. Portage is approximately 10 miles from Gary.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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