US Steel plant in Indiana spills contaminated wastewater into Lake Michigan
US Steel plant in Indiana spills contaminated wastewater into Lake Michigan.
The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that the wastewater contained hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.
It is not clear for how long the spill occurred or how much wastewater spilled.
US Steel reported that it shut down all production processes, isolated the affected piping for repairs, and added sodium trithiocarbonate to the wastewater to convert and aid in removing the toxic compound.
Save the Dunes Executive Director Natalie Johnson questioned a delay in alerting the community, which came many hours after the spill occurred through the report first issued by the NPS on the beach closures.
Current EPA maximum containment level (MCL) is 100 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water.
However, the EPA is still waiting on the release of a final human health assessment to begin the process of adjusting its policy on chromium levels in drinking water; this assessment is most likely stalled due to chemical industry challenges, such as from the American Chemistry Council, which contends tat studies “show no adverse health effects” at the current 100-ppb limit.
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that specializes in research and advocacy in areas of toxic chemicals and human health, indicates that more than 200 million citizens in all 50 states drink water contaminated with the compound.
Chicago drinking water contains levels of hexavalent chromium at 0.23 ppb, which are 11 times higher than the more stringently recommended maximum contaminant level.
According to federal records, the Portage plant is one of six facilities on the Southern shore of Lake Michigan that legally released a combined 1,696 pounds of the metal during 2015.