Corporation (USS) was calling it a “discoloration,” observed in the Burns
Waterway on Tuesday near one of its Midwest Plant’s outfalls.
Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) referred to it as a “reported
American Water Company (IAWC) characterized it as a “chemical spill.”
Whatever it was,
USS is only saying what it wasn’t: hexavalent chromium, the carcinogenic
chemical which the Midwest Plant released into Burns Waterway on multiple
occasions in 2017.
According to a
statement released late on Tuesday by USS, “This morning, Aug. 20, our team
identified a discoloration at outfall 004 at the Midwest Plant. We
immediately notified the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and
samples were collected and expedited to an outside lab for analysis. The
results of those tests indicate no presence of hexavalent chromium and no
violations of our NPDES discharge limitations.”
Chesterton Tribune e-mailed a USS spokesperson this morning for
clarification--“Can you please identify the source or cause of the
discoloration observed at the Midwest Plant’s outfall?”--the spokesperson
merely forwarded the same statement released late on Tuesday.
IDEM released its
own minimalist statement on Tuesday: IDEM “is aware of the reported oil
release at U.S. Steel Midwest and is investigating.” As of deadline today,
IDEM had not released a follow-up statement.
however--again, referring to the discoloration as a “chemical
spill”--responded exactly as it did in 2017, following the Midwest Plant’s
hexavalent chromium release: it ceased operations at its Ogden Dunes
pumping/treatment facility. “Due to a chemical spill on Tueday morning, Aug.
20, 2019, into Burns Ditch at a U.S. Steel facility in Portage, Indiana
American Water has shut down its Ogden Dunes treatment facility as a
precautionary measure after being notified by representatives of the Indiana
Department of Environmental mangement of the spill earlier today,” the
company said on Tuesday afternoon.
Water performs continuous real-time monitoring at our Ogden Dunes treatment
facility, and although we have seen no impact on the raw water parameters we
are monitoring for at this location or on our finished water quality, 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 water
source at this location,” IWAC said.
IAWC noted that it
had already reduced flow at the Ogden Dunes facility following last week’s
fish-kill, the result of releases of cyanide and ammonia from
ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant.
“The Borman Park
water treatment facility, located in Gary, remains in service and is able to
provide adequate capacity to meet customer needs for the company’s customers
in Northwest Indiana,” IAWC added.