Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday added the city’s legal muscle to a lawsuit filed by Lake Michigan surfers over spills of toxic chromium from a U.S. Steel plant near one of Chicago’s drinking water intakes.
Emanuel said his decision to piggyback on the legal challenge filed last week on behalf of the Surfrider Foundation was driven in part by U.S. Steel’s failure to notify the city about three chromium spills last year at the company’s Midwest Plant in Portage, Ind.
The two government agencies began negotiating privately with the steelmaker after the surfing group enlisted the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago to research pollution violations at U.S. Steel and other factories on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan.
Law students documented repeated violations of limits included in the Midwest Plant’s water pollution permit during the past six years. The two lawsuits were filed under a provision of the Clean Water Act that allows citizens and their elected representatives to challenge companies on their own after a 60-day notice.
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