Three beaches at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have reopened. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk beach, West Beach and Cowles Bog Beach had been closed for almost a week after a leak at the U.S. Steel plant in Portage spilled hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway, and subsequently, Lake Michigan. The company resumed full operations Monday.
In a statement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says:
ll results from water samples taken the last 3 days have shown hexavalent chromium below EPA’s method detection limit of 1 part per billion. EPA will post preliminary data on its website and will provide more results as they are available. Over the weekend, EPA monitored the U.S. Steel line-by-line startup process and did not detect any additional hexavalent chromium from the outfall.
The spill took place April 11 and the EPA says monitoring and sampling of the waters will continue through Tuesday and the National Park Service will be in charge of long term monitoring and sampling. The agency says Indiana American Water and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management are working to reopen the Ogden Dunes drinking water intake, which had been closed as a precaution.
A National Parks Service statement says, in part:
The National Park Service is working with the EPA and other agencies to implement a long-term monitoring protocol to ensure the safety of park visitors throughout the upcoming beach season. Park staff also remains concerned about potential long-term harm to wildlife and other park resources.
Additional monitoring information can be found by clicking here.