Indiana beaches closed after the apparent collapse of the U.S. Steel plant

Indiana Dunes National Park closed all of its beaches and a northwest Indiana water utility closed a drinking facility after an orange substance apparently spilled from a U.S. Steel plant into a tributary of Lake Michigan

PORTAGE, Ind. -Indiana Dunes National Park has closed its beaches and a northwest Indiana water utility has closed a drinking facility after an orange substance apparently spilled from a U.S. Steel plant into a tributary of Lake Michigan, a mayor said.

Portage Mayor Sue Lynch said she began receiving calls about 5:50 a.m. Sunday reporting that an unknown substance appeared in the water near the explosion of the U.S. Steel Midwest plant in Portage and then traveled toward Lake Michigan along the Burns Waterway, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Chicago.

“Now it’s up to the width of the channel into the open area, the mouth of the canal,” Lynch said Sunday night.

A message seeking comment from U.S. Steel was left Monday morning by The Associated Press.

Lynch told The (Northwest Indiana) Times he wasn’t sure what the ingredient was, but an employee from Portage Marina collected a sample for analysis.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said late Sunday that the state agency was investigating.

Indiana Dunes National Park said it closed Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk and all of its beaches Sunday until further notice from the abundance of conservation.

Indiana American Water said it closed the treatment facility in Ogden Dunes around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, as a precaution as well. Indiana American is conducting continuous real-time testing at the facility and has not yet seen any impact on “raw water parameters,” the utility said in a news release.

The Ogden Dunes plant is expected to remain offline until additional data and water sampling show there is no threat to the company’s water resources.

The apparent disposal at the U.S. Steel Midwest plant comes weeks after a federal judge approved a revised settlement with the company, more than four years after the Portage plant discharged wastewater containing a potential carcinogenic chemicals in the Burns Waterway.

U.S. Steel agreed to pay $ 601,242 in civil penalties and more than $ 625,000 to reimburse various agencies for costs associated with their response in April 2017 after the plant shed 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of hexavalent chromium – or 584 times the daily maximum limit allowed under state permitted laws.

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