Chesterton Tribune



IDEM issues Final Update on fish kill

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has issued what it’s calling its “Final Update” on the chemical exceedances at ArcelorMittal which killed an estimated 3,000 fish in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

IDEM “now has six rounds of sampling data from the responsible party, ArcelorMittal, from the East Arm of the Little Calumet River and along the Lake Michigan shoreline, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach,” the agency said. “All sample results were well below the federal Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant level for cyanide of .2 mg/l.”

Sample results and previous updates can be found at

IDEM also released a timeline of events:

--On Monday, Aug. 12, DNR received a citizen complaint of a distressed fish in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. Both IDEM and DNR investigated and observed one distressed fish, but found no dead fish or any other indicators of a larger problem. On the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 13, additional complaints were received identifying the presence of numerous dead fish. IDEM and the Department of Natural Resources conducted reconnaissance on Wednesday, Aug. 14, and observed that a significant fish die-off had occurred. “The cause, at that time, was unknown,” IDEM said. “In the course of investigating potential sources, IDEM learned that ArcelorMittal violated its daily maximum limit for ammonia-nitrogen.”

--On Thursday, Aug. 15, IDEM was notified by ArcelorMittal that the company had violated the daily maximum limit for total cyanide. “When IDEM received this information, agency staff immediately alerted local media, environmental organizations, and local officials including Indiana American Water and the mayor of Portage,” the agency said. “In addition, IDEM notified ArcelorMittal that they were responsible for initiating a spill response to include in-stream monitoring and increased monitoring of its outfalls to the Little Calumet River.”

--In response to a directive from IDEM to identify the cause of the chemical spill, ArcelorMittal stated that its blast furnace closed water loop station failed. On the Noncompliance Report submitted to IDEM on Thursday, Aug. 15, ArcelorMittal stated that this failure occurred on Sunday, Aug. 11.

“IDEM compliance staff will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this incident,” IDEM said. “They will also make a determination as to whether any violations occurred.”



Posted 8/27/2018





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