April 11, 2017-The United States EPA responded to a chemical spill today which could reach Lake Michigan. According to a statement from Save the Dunes, “On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, U.S. EPA responded to a spill containing hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6) into Burns Waterway within 100 yards of Lake Michigan from the US Steel facility in Portage, Indiana. Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), U.S. EPA, and National Park Service staff are currently on site to mitigate and monitor for damages.”
Tonight, the Ogden Dunes Town Council stated that the Ogden Dunes water plant is closed and voted to close the Ogden Dunes Beach until further notice “due to the ongoing situation cause by a chemical spill reported by USS Midwest Plant.
“The state of Indiana’s emergency spill response actions and associated responsibilities are quite lax,” states Natalie Johnson, Executive Director of Save the Dunes. “While the law requires communication with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management within two hours of a spill’s discovery, it is not clear how quickly residents and property owners downstream should be reached.”
According to Save the Dunes, “Until further notice has been provided, people and pets should avoid direct contact with Lake Michigan. Hexavalent chromium is a byproduct of industrial processes. It is known for creating reversible and irreversible skin legions if in direct contact. A fish kill is expected to be a result of this incident. This is also the same carcinogenic chemical that appeared in the 2000 biographical film, “Erin Brockovich.”