Chesterton Tribune

 

 

IDEM, IAWC, Arcelor: No cyanide found as of Sunday; Ikes take aim

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Continued water sampling by the Indiana Department of Environ-mental Management (IDEM), ArcelorMittal, and Indiana American Water Company (IAWC) has found no detectable traces of cyanide either in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River or in Lake Michigan waters.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League and some of its local chapters are blasting ArcelorMittal for the exceedances of cyanide and ammonia which killed 3,000 fish in the Little Cal last week.

Begin with the water sampling. After deadline on Tuesday, IDEM reported that its own monitoring at 12 locations along the East Arm of the Little Cal--as well as along the shoreline at Ogden Dunes and West Beach--has found no detectable traces of cyanide.

IDEM also reported that ongoing monitoring by IAWC has confirmed “no detections of cyanide” and “no impact on the raw water parameters” at its Ogden Dunes pumping/treatment facility.

And--as of Sunday, Aug. 18--sampling conducted by ArcelorMittal at 15 different locations similarly found “zero to barely detectable traces” of cyanide, the company said late on Tuesday. ArcelorMittal expected to release updated data on ammonia today, but did not anticipate detecting traces of that chemical “that would exceed permitted levels.”

Even so, the company said, “while the situation has improved significantly, our work is far from done. An internal investigation is ongoing to understand how this unfortunate and isolated event occurred, including the failure of the blast furnace water recirculation system, which resulted in the release of wastewater containing the elevated levels of ammonia and cyanide. We worked cooperatively with the involved agencies from the onset of the issue and notified the agencies as soon as we received preliminary results of water sampling showing abnormally elevated levels of contaminants that indicated a potential concern.”

“As we move forward,” the company added, “we are committed to restoring the public’s trust through our actions, not just our words. We will continue ongoing dialogue with agencies and stakeholders and water sampling efforts in accordance with IDEM’s requirements. We will refocus our efforts on environmental compliance and implement policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again.”

Ikes

The Ikes are having none of it, however, and in a statement released on Tuesday took aim both at ArcelorMittal for the exceedances and at IDEM for the delay in notifying the public.

“This is starting to sound like a broken record,” Chapter President Gary Brown said. “How does a leak of cyanide even happen?”

“There is no excuse for a three-day delay by the state in notifying the public of the spill,” Indiana Division President Keith Halper said. “This is unacceptable.”

Halper encouraged fellow Ikes and the public at large to contact the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly to insist on better funding for IDEM and on additional authority to better protect the public from dangerous spills.

Brown also made note of a similar delay in public notification in 2017 when U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant in Portage discharged hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway. “The first priority of these agencies should be protecting the public and the environment and not the convenience of the polluters,” Brown said.

Jeff Farkas, board member and dock rental chair of the Miller Chapter of the Ikes, registered his protest as well. “We should have been notified of the spill immediately,” he said. “This stuff went right through our property. This time of year our members are on and in the water here every day. We are boaters and anglers, many of us eat the fish we catch.”

Farkas added that the Miller chapter maintains two wells on its property which will have to be tested now.

And it’s not just the 3,000 dead fish, Halper observed, but the wildlife--like Bald Eagles--which may have eaten the dead fish. “The agencies have a duty to protect our fish and wildlife as well as people,” he said.

Note on ‘Oil Sheen’

On Tuesday afternoon, IDEM reported that it was investigating a “sheen” observed in ArcelorMittal’s discharge into the Port of Burns Harbor.

Later in the day on Tuesday, ArcelorMittal released this statement: “An oil release and an oil sheen were observed at the Port of Burns Harbor but it was not from ArcelorMittal.”

 

 

Posted 8/21/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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