These Surfers Are Taking on U.S. Steel

October 2018

Surfers on Lake Michigan are getting sick, and they think they know why.

In April 2017, the U.S. Steel plant released nearly 300 pounds of hexavalent chromium, a chemical coating used to make stainless steel last longer. The chemical, which is the same carcinogen famously brought to light by Erin Brockovich, can cause stomach cancer and skin irritations. After the spill, a blue plume spread from Burns Ditch, a narrow waterway next to the Portage beach, into Lake Michigan. Beaches closed.

Regulators shut down one of the lake’s drinking water intakes 20 miles away as a precaution. The spill wasn’t the company’s first or last. U.S. Steel released another 56 pounds the following October, this time asking state regulators to keep the incident quiet.

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Issue 12: Volume 2

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