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Chemical spill in Indiana closes beaches, kills hundreds of fish


The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk beach in Porter, Ind. is closed on Friday. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune)

The National Park Service shut down several areas of Indiana Dunes National Park after a chemical spill killed hundreds of fish in the area.

The spill occurred on the Little Calumet River, about three miles upstream from Lake Michigan, after an industrial accident at a steel-making plant in the town of Burns Harbor.

The spill caused hundreds of fish to die and several beaches to be closed.

“The odor is unbelievably bad because they decay pretty quickly,” Barb Lusco, a harbormaster, told CNN affiliate WLS. “So the odor is just awful. You can’t stand it.”

ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company headquartered in Luxembourg, said the accident was caused by a failure in a blast furnace water recirculation system leading to wastewater with high levels of ammonia and cyanide contaminating the river.

“ArcelorMittal apologizes and accepts responsibility for the incident from the Burns Harbor facility. We are working closely with state and federal regulatory agencies to address the situation and to prevent its reoccurrence,” the company said in a statement.

John Cannon, mayor of Portage, a nearby town whose beach was closed, posted a statement on Facebook questioning why the Indiana Department of Environmental Management waited three days to alert the public about the spill and pledged to work with the EPA to prevent similar breakdowns in communication in the future.

The City of Portage holds ArcelorMittal responsible for this week’s chemical exposure; that resulted in excess amounts...

Posted by Portage Indiana Municipal Page on Friday, August 16, 2019