U.S. Steel chemical spill closes beaches, EPA measuring environmental damage

U.S. Steel chemical spill closes beaches, EPA measuring environmental damage.
Low levels of the chemical hexavalent chromium, which is a carcinogen, were found in Lake Michigan, near the mouth of Burns Waterway, Sam Borries a branch chief for Region 5 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emergency response program.
The park closed public access to West Beach and the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Tuesday afternoon in light of the spill, which an EPA official said occurred Tuesday morning within 100 yards of Lake Michigan.
Officials in Ogden Dunes also closed their beach because of the spill and Indiana American Water Company, which provides drinking water to the community, shut down its plant there and is using its plant in Gary as a backup for the time being.
The beaches and water will be independently tested and monitored to determine when they are safe to reopen, Rowe said, adding the National Park Service has staff on the scene to closely monitor the situation and will provide more information as it becomes available.
"EPA will now get the lab work to determine if there is any contamination of our resources.
"Once the investigation is done, that will be determined," Borries said.
"It certainly reduces the impact by changing it into something else," Kelly said.
The town is instead getting its water from the Borman Park water treatment facility in Gary, Joe Loughmiller, the water utility’s external affairs manager, said in a statement.
"My office will continue to stay in close contact with the EPA, the IDNL, as well as with U.S. Steel and other federal, state, and local entities, as we gather information and work to remedy any impact from the discharge."

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