Chesterton Tribune



Mystery substance again seen floating in water at Porter Beach

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is investigating yet another occurrence at Porter Beach of a mystery substance found in the offshore waters.

The substanceÑobserved Wednesday afternoonÑappears to resemble the “glittery” or “sparkly” material floating at Porter Beach in June, but IDEM spokesman Dan Goldblatt told the Chesterton Tribune today that “there’s no way to say right now” whether the two substances are the same.

Preliminary analysis of samples taken in June identified that substance as some sort of compound of an anti-caking agent used in powdered spices, tricalcium orthophosphate; an acidity regulator which is naturally occurring in fruit and honey, d’gluconic acid; andÑone other thingÑmaple syrup. But IDEM is “still analyzing the original incident,” Goldblatt said.

About the substance observed on Wednesday, Goldblatt remarked that it does not appear harmful. “We are telling the public that if you’ve come in contact with it, there is no real reason to be alarmed. Wash with soap and water and don’t eat it or ingest it.”

Goldblatt added that the decision to close Porter Beach belongs to the National Park Service (NPS). As of deadline today, NPS had not issued a swimming advisory for any of the beaches at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

And at least early on Wednesday afternoon, Porter Beach did remain open, Porter Fire Chief Lewis Craig said. “It didn’t bother the people. The didn’t get out of the water.”

In addition to IDEM investigators, the Porter County Environmental Department dispatched a hazardous-materials team to the scene, Craig noted. And the U.S. Coast Guard was notified.

Craig did say that, after taking samples at Porter Beach, the IDEM investigators went next to the Port of Indiana, but Goldblatt would not confirm that. “The investigation is ongoing and I can’t comment on that right now,” he said.



Posted 7/19/2013