The U.S. Department of Justice has announced a settlement with Illinois-based SunCoke Energy Inc. (NYSE: SXC) and Cokenergy LLC related to allegations of Clean Air Act violations at the coke plant in East Chicago. The companies, along with SunCoke subsidiary Indiana Harbor Coke Co., were accused of excess emissions of coke oven gases from the plant.

The settlement also includes the office of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Per the terms of the settlement, the companies must pay $5 million in civil penalties, which will be divided evenly between the state and federal governments.

Hill's office says leaking coke ovens and excessive bypass venting of hot coking gases into the atmosphere have led to pollutants such as waste gases, lead, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter to be released into area. The settlement requires the companies to conduct comprehensive rebuilds of their coke ovens to address leaks and agree to enhanced monitoring and testing requirements.

Cokenergy will also pay $250,000 for lead abatement at facilities in the East Chicago area, including schools, daycare centers and other buildings. Priority will be given to facilities with young children and pregnant women.

"I’m grateful to have worked with our federal partners to get this issue resolved," said Bruno Pigott, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "It’s my hope that, now and in the future, this settlement will improve not only the air quality in Northwest Indiana, but also the quality of life for Hoosiers living in East Chicago."