Chesterton Tribune

 

 

DNR: 3000 fish dead; IDEM: Contaminant levels dropping

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is estimating the number of fish killed in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River, following two chemical exceedances last week at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility, at 3,000.

Meanwhile, no in-stream water sample of the Little Calumet, collected in two rounds of monitoring, has “exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act,” the Indiana Department of Management reported after deadline on Monday.

According to IDEM, the 3,000 fish killed include panfish, shad, channel catfish, bass, and walleye, which began dying on Monday, Aug. 12, after a blast furnace recirculation system at ArcelorMittal failed, releasing exceedances of cyanide and ammonia into an outfall ditch flowing into the Little Cal just west of the Shadyside Mobile Home Community.

IDEM staff, however, “have not observed any additional dead or distressed fish in the area.”

Nor has Indiana American Water Company detected any presence of cyanide in the water at its Ogden Dunes pumping/treatment station or any impact on raw water parameters, IDEM said.

In the first round of sampling results received on Sunday--conducted by ArcelorMittal but processed by a third-party analytical laboratory--low levels of cyanide were found beyond the break wall of the Little Cal but those levels were “well below the MCL for drinking water,” IDEM said.

Nevertheless, as a precaution, IDEM said that it directed ArcelorMittal to expand the sampling area to include the Lake Michigan shoreline to the west, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. “IDEM staff have also collected samples in these same areas,” IDEM said. “Results of sampling conducted along the Lake Michigan shoreline are pending.”

“IDEM and DNR continue to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to coordinate the response to this incident,” IDEM added.

Also after deadline on Monday, ArcelorMittal announced that “contaminant levels have significantly declined” since the exceedances. For ammonia, whose MCL is 0.52 parts per million:

--Sunday, Aug. 11: 0.92 parts per million.

--Tuesday, Aug. 13: 0.78.

--Thursday, Aug. 15: 0.81.

--Saturday, Aug. 17: 0.53.

--Sunday, Aug. 18: 0.51.

For cyanide, whose maximum contaminant level is 0.2 milligram per liter of drinking water:

--Tuesday, Aug. 13: 0.26.

--Thursday, Aug. 15: 0.24.

--Saturday, Aug. 17: 0.053.

--Sunday, Aug. 18: 0.007.

“We will continue to conduct daily monitoring of the sites and report to IDEM and the public as long as regulatory agencies require,” the company said. “ArcelorMittal remains committed to transparency with our stakeholders. We are deeply saddened to hear of the 3,000 fish estimated by IDNR that were killed as a result of the incident and are working collaboratively with governmental agencies and other stakeholders to address the impacts that occurred.”

Questions or comments from the community may be directed to community information inbox at USACR@arcelormittal.com or the company’s hotline at (219) 787-3333.

 

Posted 8/20/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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