About two miles of Portage, IN, Lake Michigan beach front is closed off after a toxic chemical spill occurred last Tuesday.
The National Park service said hexavalent chromium spilled into the Burns Waterway, about 100 yards from the opening to Lake Michigan there.
The chemical is used during “hot work,” like welding, according to the Department of Labor.
That spill originated at U.S. Steel in Portage. The bi-product came out of a hole in a pipe connected to the waste water treatment connected to the facility.
“We have no confirmation that it has made its way into Lake Michigan, but there is sampling going on right now,” said Natalie Johnson, Executive Director of Save The Dunes in Michigan City.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the national parks service closed off all entrances leading to the affected areas.
“Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, Boaters Beach and West Beach, and the community of Ogden Dunes beach” all closed, Johnson said. And a third beach, Cowles Bog Beach, closed Wednesday.
Pedestrians were warned over social media not to make any contact with those areas of Lake Michigan until further notice.
“There could be some monitoring that reports samples as early as today,” said Johnson.
Johnson said this particular chemical dissipates very quickly in the water, however it is known to cause skin lesions. Federal officials said it has been known to cause cancer.