Beaches in Indiana Dunes National Park closed after US steel mill apparently overflowed – NBC Chicago
Indiana Dunes National Park closed its beaches and a water company in northwest Indiana closed a reception facility after an orange substance apparently leaked from a U.S. steel mill into a tributary of Lake Michigan, a mayor said.
Portage Mayor Sue Lynch said she received calls at around 5:50 p.m. Sunday reporting that an unknown substance appeared in the water near the head of the U.S. Steel Midwest’s Portage facility and then along the Burns Waterway towards Lake Michigan, about 30 miles east of Chicago.
“Now it goes across the entire width of the canal in the open area, the mouth of the trench,” said Lynch on Sunday evening.
A message asking for a comment from US Steel was left by The Associated Press on Monday morning.
Lynch told the (Northwest Indiana) Times she wasn’t sure what the substance could be, but a Portage Marina employee had collected a sample for analysis.
A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said late Sunday that the state agency was investigating.
“At 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26, a rusty fluid was reported to have been discharged from the US steel mill in Portage, Indiana,” said a statement from Indiana Dunes National Park. “An investigation is ongoing to determine the nature and extent of the discharge.”
Indiana Dunes National Park said it closed Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk and all of its beaches on Sunday as a precaution until further notice.
Indiana American Water said it also closed its treatment facility in Ogden Dunes around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday as a precautionary measure. Indiana American is conducting continuous real-time testing at the facility and has found no impact on “raw water parameters,” the utility said in a press release.
The Ogden Dunes facility was expected to remain offline until additional data and water samples show that there is no harm to the company’s water source.
The apparent spill at the US Steel Midwest plant comes weeks after a federal judge approved a revised settlement with the company, more than four years after the Portage plant discharged wastewater containing a potentially carcinogenic chemical into the Burns Waterway.
US Steel agreed to pay a civil fine of $ 601,242 and more than $ 625,000 to reimburse various authorities for costs related to their response in April 2017 after the plant was 300 pounds (136 kilograms) had spilled hexavalent chromium – or 584 times the state maximum daily allowance laws allow.