This is why when people come to Chicago and want to spend time on the beaches I say, “That’s cool, but don’t get into the water!” Chicago which borders Lake Michigan was in times past an absolutely gorgeous lake with unique sea-life and creatures that utilized this lake for food as well as a habitat. Well this hasn’t been for over 40+ years. Lake Michigan has been a dumping ground for toxic waste by Draconian’s for so long one has to wonder has it never not been a disposal ground. Nevertheless the Vortex in this region still goes strong and is unaffected by these trivial pursuits.
PORTAGE — Indiana American Water has shut down one of two treatment facilities that provide water across the Region as a precaution in the wake of a chemical spill Tuesday morning into Burns Ditch at the U.S. Steel facility.
The reported spill was one of two being investigated in the waterway Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and comes in the wake of ArcelorMittal’s admission last week to dumping higher-than-permitted levels of cyanide and ammonia in the same waters.
Indiana American Water already had reduced flow to its Ogden Dunes facility in question last week in the wake of the ArcelorMittal spill, which was followed by the death of some 3,000 fish, beach closures, disruptions in business and recreation, and the threat of a group lawsuit.
“Indiana American Water performs continuous real-time monitoring at our Ogden Dunes treatment facility, and although we have seen no impact on the raw water parameters, we are monitoring for at this location or on our finished water quality, the Ogden Dunes facility will remain offline until such time as additional data and water testing results confirm there is no threat to the company’s source water at this location,” the company said in a written release.
Indiana American Water said it draws Lake Michigan water from the Ogden Dunes facility and another larger facility in Gary. The Gary facility remains in service and is able to meet customer needs.
U.S. Steel reported Tuesday morning a “discoloration” in the outfall of its Midwest facility located along the Burns Waterway. The company said it immediately took samples and contacted local authorities and stakeholders.
Tuesday night, the company said samples indicated no presence of hexavalent chromium and no violations of discharge limitations.
“This matter did not result in any risk of harm to the public or the environment and has been resolved,” the company said.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was also investigating reports of a “sheen” at the ArcelorMittal discharge in Burns Harbor.
ArcelorMittal said Monday the ammonia levels in the waterway returned below the permitted level Saturday, and cyanide returned below the permitted level Sunday.
IDEM said Tuesday it conducted sampling at 12 locations in the east arm of the Little Calumet River, as well as along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach.
“No detections of cyanide were found in any of the sample results,” the agency said.
The release at U.S. Steel is the latest in a string of discharges from the facility, including an April 2017 spill of nearly 300 pounds of hexavalent chromium — or 584 times the daily maximum limit allowed under state permitting laws — into the Burns Waterway.
The Surfrider Foundation and Chicago sued U.S. Steel in January 2018 for the April 2017 spill and other Clean Water Act violations.
In November, IDEM investigated a foamy discharge from the Midwest Facility. Tests did not detect hexavalant chromium, which is a highly toxic form of chromium, and showed other pollutants were below permitted levels, the department said.
On Friday, Portage Mayor John Cannon accused state environmental officials and others of waiting several days before notifying the city of the contamination at ArcelorMittal. He said IDEM and others were made aware of the problem Aug. 12, but the city was not informed until Thursday.