Indiana American Water shut down its Ogden Dunes treatment facility late Friday afternoon after being notified by representatives of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management of a chemical spill into Burns Ditch at U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant in Portage, according to a release.

The spill, which Portage Mayor John Cannon said is believed to be a petroleum product, is one of a series from U.S. Steel over the past couple of years, including one in August, and comes on the heels of two chemical spills by ArcelorMittal last month.

On Aug. 20, U.S. Steel reported a “discoloration” from a discharge into Burns Waterway. Portage officials later said it was a petroleum spill.

Cannon, who has been critical of ArcelorMittal’s handling of the spills of ammonia and cyanide, which killed 3,000 fish in the Portage Marina, said he was notified around 1:30 p.m. about the most recent spill in Burns Ditch by both IDEM and U.S. Steel.

“U.S. Steel has done a very good job. They were ordered to do that,” Cannon said of the contact, one of the action results of two spills of hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway in April and October 2017, adding he hoped that ArcelorMittal would provide similar communication in the event of future spills. “U.S. Steel has done what they’re supposed to do in their order.”

The leak was contained, Cannon said, adding IDEM officials were able to collect a sample of the sheen for testing. He added that it does not sound as though the spillage got into Lake Michigan, and had not heard from the National Park Service on whether any parks will be closed.

A spokesman for Indiana Dunes National Park could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

As far as Indiana American Water, the utility uses water from two Lake Michigan intakes as a source of water in Northwest Indiana, including the facility at Ogden Dunes and the larger Borman Park water treatment plant in Gary, according to a release.

“Indiana American Water performs continuous real-time monitoring at our Ogden Dunes treatment facility, and although we have seen no impact on the raw water parameters we are monitoring for at this location or on our finished water quality, the Ogden Dunes facility will remain offline until such time as additional data and water testing results confirm there is no threat to the company’s source water at this location,” the release said.

The Borman Park water treatment facility in Gary remains in service and is able to provide adequate treatment capacity to meet customer needs in the region, the release states.
Copyright © 2020, Chicago Tribune