US Steel has shut down operations at its Portage, Indiana plant after an orange substance spilled from the site into a tributary of Lake Michigan, according to the company and local officials.
Portage Mayor Sue Lynch said she started receiving calls around 5:50 p.m. Sunday, reporting that an unknown substance had appeared in the water near the plant’s outlet and had directed towards Lake Michigan along the Burns Waterway.
“Now it’s across the width of the canal in the open area, the mouth of the ditch,” Lynch said Sunday night.
In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson for US Steel said the plant had experienced “a problem with the finishing line wastewater treatment plant,” believed to be the cause of the discoloration of the water.
“Early indications show higher than normal suspended solids in the water, and we are conducting additional sampling and investigation to determine the cause,” the statement continued.
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 “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 issues with the finishing line wastewater treatment plant. Plant operations will remain suspended until the situation stabilizes. It is currently believed that this upheaval is 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.