PORTAGE | Being a good neighbor has been a core corporate value at U.S. Steel since Judge Elbert H. Gary became the steelmaker’s first chairman of the board in 1901, an official told a group Thursday at a Portage parks program.
Jill Ritchie, director of public policy and governmental affairs for U.S. Steel, said that policy includes being a good environmental steward. Ritchie spoke at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Pavilion in the Indiana Dunes National Park opened in October 2008.
This area was used for decades by Midwest Steel to store industrial byproduct and a sewage treatment facility. In 1976, Midwest Steel established an environmental stewardship program, she said.
That program continued under U.S. Steel when the steel firm bought out Midwest in 2003. Under U.S. Steel’s leadership, the sewage treatment plant was demolished and the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk was established in partnership with the U.S. Park Service, Ritchie said.
Another brownfield site U.S. Steel has transformed is a 21-acre parcel on the east side of U.S. Steel Gary Works that is adjacent to Marquette Park.
“We did prairie grass restoration, and it is a certified wildlife refuge,” she said. “Over 61 events have been held there and most of them have been for Gary school students.”
Corporate environmental stewardship also includes billions of dollars invested in such projects as reusing coke oven and blast furnace gas as a fuel source.
“It’s good business and the responsible thing to do,” Ritchie said. “We realize we all live on a shared plant.”