UPDATE: Indiana beaches along Lake Michigan reopened after chemical spill

An empty beach (Lake Michigan) is in the background while an empty lifeguard stand is empty.

UPDATE:

The Indiana Dunes National Park reopened the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk’s beach Thursday afternoon.

IDEM reports that there’s been no detection of cyanide or any other hazardous chemicals at any of their 12 sampling locations in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River or along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. After three days of confirmed tests, the National Park Service (NPS) reopened the beach to the public.  A detailed map and water sampling reports can be viewed here.

ORIGINAL STORY:

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) — Some beaches along northwestern Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline are closed after authorities say a chemical spill in a tributary caused a fish kill.

The National Park Service said Thursday it closed the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk beach areas at Indiana Dunes National Park as well as waters out to 300 feet (91 meters).

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant released excess amounts of cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen into the Little Calumet River’s east branch, causing a fish kill noticed this week.

ArcelorMittal says in a statement that it’s investigating and will “continue to work closely with the agencies involved.”

The city of Ogden Dunes also closed its beach. Officials say the city’s drinking water wasn’t affected, but its filtration plant restricted water intake as a precaution.

A northwestern Indiana mayor says state environmental officials waited several days before notifying his city about the chemical spill.

Portage Mayor John Cannon said in a statement Friday that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and others learned Monday about a steel mill’s spill of cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen but didn’t inform the city until Thursday.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports Cannon says Portage officials “will be taking aggressive action” with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “to ensure the breakdown of communication, like this, does not occur again.”

IDEM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency says ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor steel mill released excess amounts of the chemicals into the Little Calumet River’s east branch.

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