No significant chemical discharge from US Steel spill into Lake Michigan

Some beaches along Lake Michigan remained closed Wednesday after a chemical spill at a U.S. Steel facility in Portage, Ind.

On Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a statement that they have been conducting "intensive water sampling" of Lake Michigan after a US Steel Corporation facility discharged wastewater containing hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6) into Burns Waterway.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that all beaches within a three-mile radius of the hexavalent chromium discharge be closed.

Chicago's water remains safe to drink after a chemical spill in a tributary of Lake Michigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday.

The National Park Service temporarily closed the West Beach and Portage Lakefront areas as a precaution and is advising people and their pets to avoid contact with water there until further notice.

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"The fact that these risky chemicals have not reached Chicago's water supply is simply due to good luck, and not good actions by U.S. Steel. We have developed a controlled and phased approach to a facility restart with extensive input from the participating government agencies", the statement said.

"The Ogden Dunes facility will remain offline until such time as additional data and water testing results confirm there is no threat to the company's source water at this location", IAWC added.

The EPA expects to start getting its own results on Friday, April 14 from samples taken after Tuesday's spill.

Three beaches have been shut down over the spill.

Two National Lakeshore beach areas along Lake Michigan are closed. "When monitoring has determined the exposure risk is no longer present, (NPS) will re-open these beaches". All results were below EPA's method detection limit of 1 part per billion.

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In a story WIMS is continuing to follow, Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer gave an update about concerns over the chemical spill at US Steel in Portage, Indiana on Tuesday morning.

Chronic exposure to hexavalent chromium can damage DNA and cause cancer to the lungs, skin and kidneys, an assistant professor of chemistry at Indiana University Northwest said earlier this week.

The plant has sat idle since Tuesday, when the company said an expansion joint failed in a pipe, allowing wastewater to flow into the wrong treatment plant at the Portage complex. The resulting legal action against the utility-dramatized in the film Erin Brockovich-resulted in a $333-million settlement.

Those steps included "the isolation and fix of the damaged pipe, recovery of material, and the addition of a water treatment compound, sodium trithiocarbonate, to the wastewater treatment plant to convert and aid in the removal of hexavalent chromium".

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