Chicago agency finds high chemical level in lake

"We want to see clean results there most likely for multiple days before we can consider the beaches safe to open", said Bruce Rowe, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The agency closed the national lakeshore's West Beach and the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk beach sites Tuesday following the spill at U.S. Steel's Portage, Indiana, plant.

US Steel will be required to fix the system at its Portage plant, and to clean it; the progress on that will be monitored by the EPA, writes the Chicago Tribune.

"EPA is working closely with U.S. Steel and federal, state and local partners", Bassler said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that all beaches within a three-mile radius of the hexavalent chromium discharge be closed.

That plant will remain offline until further testing shows there's no threat to its lakeside water source.

St. Joseph Congressman Fred Upton is asking for an all-hands-on-deck effort in response to the chemical spill at the U.S. Steel facility in Portage, Indiana. But on Tuesday "an expansion joint in the rinse-water pipe failed and resulted in the water being released to a different wastewater treatment plant and ultimately (to) Burns Waterway through an outfall".

The steelmaker says that allowed wastewater from an electroplating treatment process that contains hexavalent chromium to flow into the wrong wastewater treatment plant and eventually enter Burns Waterway through a drainage pipe.

That's "a level higher than would be expected to be found in raw lake water", the department said in a news release, but it's just a fraction of the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion for all forms of chromium.

U.S. Steel has said its release of the chemical was stopped at the source.

Water samples from Lake Michigan and one of its tributaries show no significant discharge of a potentially carcinogenic chemical from a U.S. Steel Corp. wastewater spill in northern in, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

The EPA says sampling found no signs of the chemical reaching Lake Michigan.

Indiana American Water, which operates a water treatment plant at nearby Ogden Dunes that draws water from the lake about two miles from Burns Waterway, temporarily shuttered that plant following the spill, and is instead tapping water reserves. The restart will occur while a water company's nearby intake remains closed and access to parks and beaches in the area remains restricted.

The EPA has said hexavalent chromium might be carcinogenic if ingested.

  • Todd Kelly