Chicago agency finds high level of spilled chemical in lake

EPA US Steel leaks chemical into Lake Michigan tributary	 	 	 			Lake Michigan- Grand Haven

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However, the Chicago Department of Water Management said Thursday that its own water sample from Lake Michigan about a mile north of the spill contained 2 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium.

Save the Dunes, an environmental protection group in IN, is also warning people from coming into direct contact with the chemical, which they say is "the same carcinogenic chemical that appeared in the 2000 biographical film, 'Erin Brockovich'".

The utility said Wednesday that preliminary water testing by an independent laboratory under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's oversight has detected no hexavalent chromium in the water treated and stored by its plant.

The EPA, which is overseeing the response to the spill, said the spilled wastewater eventually entered the waterway about 100 yards from Lake Michigan from a drainage pipe.

Elevated levels of a potentially carcinogenic chemical were found in a water sample from Lake Michigan after a nearby wastewater spill this week at a U.S. Steel plant in IN, the Chicago Department of Water Management said.

"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", IAWC added.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that all beaches within a three-mile radius of the hexavalent chromium discharge be closed. The spill closed beaches around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, officials said.

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The restart was set to begin Friday with a line-by-line restart of operations that do not use chromium, and U. S. Steel will take samples from the facility every two hours, the company said.

The EPA has said hexavalent chromium - a toxic byproduct of industrial processes - might be carcinogenic if ingested.

U.S. Steel issued a statement Thursday evening saying it had identified the source of the spill and "has made the necessary repairs".

No hexavalent chromium has been detected in the lake following the release of an undetermined amount of toxic wastewater, but monitoring in the area continues, the federal agency said.

A case involving the chemical was made famous by the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, which was based on a utility's disposal of water laced with hexavalent chromium in unlined ponds near Hinkley, Calif. "We have developed a controlled and phased approach to a facility restart with extensive input from the participating government agencies", the statement said. "Park staff is concerned with potential impacts to both beach users' health and long-term harm to wildlife and other park resources".



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