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Indiana City Officials Mull Suing U.S. Steel Over Chemical Spills

Officials of a northern Indiana city have condemned U.S. Steel's silence over an October spill of a potentially carcinogenic chemical into a Lake Michigan tributary.

Portage officials have also threatened to take legal action against the steelmaker. They said they learned of the hexavalent chromium spill  through a newspaper article.

"We were told this wouldn't happen again. We were told we would be informed. We weren't informed. We need to explore our options legally," said Councilman Collin Czilli.

The October spill came after the steelmaker dumped more than 300 pounds of the chemical into the waterway in April, shutting down water intake operations and beaches.

"To put pollutants in the waterway is ridiculous," said Portage City Council President Mark Oprisko. "Their responsibility is to contact us."

The City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that demands the steelmaker report any environmental spill or discharge to the city as it would to the Environmental Protection Agency or Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Meghan Cox said the company is willing to comply with all environmental standards to ensure the safety of its employees and "neighbors in the communities in which we live and operate, and to safeguarding our shared environment."

Cox said U.S. Steel takes every incident seriously and is continuing efforts to improve its environmental compliance processes.

Officials said they're deciding whether to join a lawsuit against the steelmaker that's planned by an environmental law center. The city of Chicago is also planning to sue U.S. Steel Corp. over recent spills.

Oprisko said the council is expected to make its decision about legal action next month.

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