Chesterton Tribune



No cyanide found in Little Calumet or Lake for second consecutive day

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Water sampling conducted by ArcelorMittal at 15 sites along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River--as well as at eight sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline, in Ogden Dunes and West Beach--have found no detections of cyanide, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) reported after deadline on Wednesday.

Those are the results of sampling done on Monday, Aug. 19. Previous sampling done on Sunday, Aug. 18, similarly found no detections of cyanide.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, ArcelorMittal released a timeline of events as a corrective to “any further confusion” about what the company knew about its exceedances of cyanide and ammonia, and when.

-- On Thursday, Aug. 15, ArcelorMittal reported to IDEM that it had exceeded permitted levels of cyanide, after its blast furnace recirculation system failed on Sunday, Aug. 11. A copy of that report can be found at

-- However, the company said, the Aug. 15 report to IDEM did not indicate--“contrary to reports”--that ArcelorMittal was aware on Sunday of the cyanide exceedance. Nor did the Aug. 15 report indicate that the company was aware on Sunday of the possibility that the system failure may have resulted in a discharge of unpermitted levels of contaminants. “As provided in the report, ArcelorMittal first received conclusive sampling results on Thursday, Aug. 15, at which time we notified the agencies and publicly acknowledged the issue.”

-- The cause of the exceedances was disclosed in a statement released on Friday, Aug. 16.

-- “As a heavy manufacturer, we are susceptible to process failures, yet they do not always result in permit exceedances,” ArcelorMittal said. Thus routine NPDES samples for Outfall 001 and 011 were collected on Sunday, Aug. 11, and again on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Diagnostic sampling began on Thursday, Aug. 15, and the formal daily NPDES outfall and instream monitoring began on Friday, Aug. 16.

-- “It’s also important to understand that the untreated water was not released directly into the river,” ArcelorMittal said. “It went through the water recirculation system and secondary wastewater treatment plant and finally to a settling pond, where it is released in small increments into the river via our outfalls. This, coupled with a 24-96 hour delay in receiving analytic information, contributed to a perceived delay between the incident itself and notification of agencies. Results were reported shortly after receipt.”

-- “The chain of events is a complicated and lengthy process, but we assure the public that information was shared as soon as it was confirmed and available,” the company added.

The exceedances of cyanide and ammonia on Sunday, Aug. 11, resulted in the deaths of some 3,000 fish in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.



Posted 8.22.2019





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