No significant chemical discharge from US Steel spill

Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

WLS View of Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore west of Portage Ind

The National Park Service has announced a third beach at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been closed as a result of a hazardous chemical spill at a U.S. Steel plant in Portage.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the company reported Tuesday that it leaked an unknown amount of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway in Portage, Indiana, within 100 yards of the lake.

The federal agency said it took about 100 samples Wednesday and another 100 Thursday following a discharge of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium, a byproduct of industrial processes, into the Burns Waterway. The EPA said none of that chemical was found in Lake Michigan or in water from the water utility that serves the area, according to the Oklahoman.

Yesterday, in an abundance of caution, Indiana American Water in Ogden Dunes - the nearest municipal water source - shut down its water intake and switched to a reserve water supply.

The National Park Service has closed a third beach along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore following a nearby toxic wastewater spill. "We have developed a controlled and phased approach to a facility restart with extensive input from the participating government agencies".

"The plant will be closed until additional data and water testing results confirm there is no threat to the company's source water at this location", it said.

The Park Service said Wednesday it closed Cowles Bog Beach based on a recommendation that all beaches within three miles of the spill site be closed as a precaution to protect park visitors.

Maguire said testing is continuing at the intake and other points on the lake and adjacent areas, but hexavalent chromium from the spill has so far not been found in the lake.

Today, EPA continues to conduct sampling at the outfall, water intake, beaches and Burns Ditch.

After deadline on Wednesday-some 24 hours after the spill-USS released its own statement about the incident.

"In addition, U. S. Steel has made enhancements to the parts of the facility where the failure occurred and is reviewing additional measures it can take to allow for earlier detection of future issues". "All results were below EPA's method detection limit of 1 part per billion", the EPA said.

According to the U.S. Occupation Safety and Health Administration's website, hexavalent chromium "is known to cause cancer" and additionally "targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin, and eyes". That wastewater is supposed to flow into a special treatment plant, but the pipe failure prevented that from happening.

U.S. Steel has halted all production processes at its Portage facility as it works with the EPA, state and local officials to respond to the spill, fix the damaged pipe and remove the hexavalent chromium.

Among other things, compounds of the chemical are used to "electroplate chromium onto metal parts to provide a decorative or protective coating", OSHA noted.

Latest News