Chesterton Tribune



'Discoloration,' 'oil release,' 'chemical spill' at USS; water company closes intake

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U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) was calling it a “discoloration,” observed in the Burns Waterway on Tuesday near one of its Midwest Plant’s outfalls.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) referred to it as a “reported oil release.”

And Indiana 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.”

When the 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.

IAWC, 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.

“Indiana American 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.


Posted 8/21/2019




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