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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: U.S. Steel, Gary Works Facility - Gary, Indiana

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Congress amended the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in November 1984, expanding the Act's cleanup provisions and prompting EPA and its state partners to develop the RCRA Corrective Action Program. The program oversees the investigation and cleanup of nearly 4,000 hazardous waste sites across the country, including many with risks comparable to Superfund sites.

U.S. Steel’s Gary Works has been making steel since 1909.  Gary Works was a fully integrated mill, and operations included coking and byproduct recovery, sintering, iron and steel-making, and finishing mills.  Today, the mill

continues to make and finish steel at the 4,000-acre facility located

along the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan.       

    Cleanup Status

    In 1998, EPA and U.S. Steel agreed to a corrective action program at Gary Works.  This agreement is observed in a Corrective Action Order established under RCRA.  The order requires U.S. Steel to investigate contamination at Gary Works and clean it up where necessary to protect people and the environment.

    Gary Works is a very large facility with a long operating history.  USS completed preliminary investigations across the site, and EPA and USS used that information to identify and prioritize work at specific areas of Gary Works.  USS constructed an on-site Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU) to dispose remediation wastes managed as part of the Gary Works cleanup.  

     USS has completed several interim cleanup measures including:

    • Removing 800,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Grand Calumet River.  This sediment was dewatered and disposed in the CAMU. 
    • Removing drums from the West Grand Calumet Lagoon.
    • Excavating contaminated soil and disposing of it in the CAMU.
    • Installing slurry cut-off walls and groundwater extraction wells to control groundwater flowing to Lake Michigan.

    Under the authority of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, USS has also closed several waste disposal areas.  

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      Site Description

      U.S. Steel’s Gary Works is built on 4,000 acres of land in northwest Indiana.  It stretches for seven miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.  Gary Works shares its eastern boundary with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Grand Calumet River and the city of Gary are located south of the facility.        

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      Contaminants at this Facility

      USS is investigating the extent of contamination in the soil, sediment, groundwater, porewater and surface water resulting from historic spills and waste disposal.    

      Contaminants at Gary Works include metals, volatile and semi volatile organic compounds, and PCBs.  

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      Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

      The city of Gary has established a groundwater use ordinance which limits how groundwater is used.

      Several engineering controls have been constructed including slurry-cut off walls and groundwater pumping systems to control contaminated groundwater flow.  

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      Land Reuse Information at this Facility

      A 1,000-foot buffer zone exists between Gary Works and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  Congress has authorized incorporating this buffer zone into the park provided it is in acceptable condition.  USS used part of the area in the past for waste disposal.  The buffer zone also contains habitat for the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly.  Investigations are ongoing.      

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      Site Responsiblity at this Facility

      EPA Region 5: Corrective Action and CAMU.

      Indiana Department of Environmental Management:  RCRA Closures.

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