Water clean after chemical spill at Lake Michigan tributary

MarketsAssociated Press

Chemical tests at an Indiana tributary that feeds Lake Michigan are coming up clear following a spill of a potentially carcinogenic chemical.

The Burns Waterway has been tested weekly for hexavalent chromium following April's spill at a U.S. Steel facility, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. Nearly 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of the chemical was spilled, which is more than 580 times the daily maximum limit allowed under state law.

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Coming into direct contact with the chemical can cause skin reactions.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is assisting U.S. Steel with long-term monitoring of four beaches on the waterway. U.S. Steel conducts water testing at Indiana American Water's intake in Ogden Dunes.

"This is simply about keeping visitors safe," said Charles Morris, an environmental protection specialist at the National Lakeshore.

He said none of the samples taken from the beaches so far have shown a concentration above the 0.03 milligrams per liter minimum detection level for hexavalent chromium. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water standard is 0.1 milligrams per liter.

Sampling will continue until the end of August.

The April spill prompted the temporary closure of several area beaches and the intake in Ogden Dunes. They were later reopened once EPA tests found no traces of the chemical.

Lake Michigan provides drinking water to many residents in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.


Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com