Beaches reopened in Portage, Indiana on Tuesday after an orange substance spilled from a plant in a tributary of Lake Michigan in the past few days, officials said.
Portage Mayor Sue Lynch said she was awaiting water test results after the industrial spill on Sunday, for which calls were received that an unknown substance had appeared in the water near the outlet from the factory and headed for Lake Michigan along the Burns Waterway.
“I’m still worried about the effect on fish life, aquatic life, vegetation along the edge of the canal here,” Lynch said.
US Steel has shut down operations at its Midwestern plant as a precaution, according to the company and local officials.
Based on the latest findings, US Steel said high concentrations of iron discolor the water. The company, however, said it remains in compliance with permit limits.
Lynch said drinking water for Portage residents now comes from the West, although it typically comes from Lake Michigan for millions of people in Indiana and Illinois.
“We know this is a partnership and that many of our families work here in this factory, but we expect them to be responsible in our community and not allow discharges into the lake,” Lynch said.
Indiana Dunes National Park said it closed the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk and all of its beaches on Sunday until further notice out of caution.
Indiana American Water said it closed its Ogden Dunes treatment facility around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, also as a precaution. Indiana American is performing continuous real-time testing on the facility and has not seen any impact on the “raw water parameters,” the utility said in a press release.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said the state agency was investigating.
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 released sewage containing a potentially chemical carcinogen in the Burns Waterway.
US Steel agreed to pay a civil fine of $ 601,242 and over $ 625,000 to reimburse various agencies for costs associated with their response in April 2017 after the plant dumped 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of hexavalent chromium – Or 584 times the maximum daily limit authorized by the State. authorizing laws.
The full statement from US Steel is below:
US Steel has shut down operations at its Midwestern plant as a precaution after experiencing problems with the finishing line wastewater treatment plant. Plant operations will remain suspended until the situation is stabilized. This upheaval is currently considered to be the cause of the discolored water coming from one of our emissaries. Early indications show higher than normal suspended solids in the water, and we are doing additional sampling and investigation to determine the cause. US Steel made all appropriate notifications to regulatory agencies and some officials attended, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Coast Guard American and Porter County. We will continue to work with regulators and the community and provide additional updates as they become available.