Cancer-Causing Chemical Spill 100 Yards From Lake Michigan Closes Beaches

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Carey Wedler via,

Multiple Indiana beaches have been shut down following a spill of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium, a highly toxic chemical linked to cancer. The United States Steel company reported the leak occurred on Tuesday due to equipment failure at its Portage, Indiana, plant, a lapse that “resulted in a chemical leak into the waterway that forced the shutdown of a drinking water intake along Lake Michigan and several nearby beaches,” the Northwest Indiana Times explained.

Local outlet The Indy Channel also documented the circumstances, acknowledging the release of hexavalent chromium into the water:

The USS Midwest Plant reported that they had a spill into the Burns Waterway Tuesday afternoon. The Environmental Protection Agency says the spill contained hexavalent chromium from the US Steel facility in Portage, Indiana.”

U.S. News reported that U.S. Steel said the leak was a result of a malfunctioning pipe, asserting “an expansion joint failed Tuesday in a pipe at its Portage, Indiana, facility, allowing wastewater from an electroplating treatment process that contains hexavalent chromium to flow into the wrong wastewater treatment plant at the complex.”

The spill has led to the National Park Service’s closure of “West Beach and Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Ogden Dunes’ town beach.” On Wednesday, the service also shut down Cowles Bog Beach.

According to U.S. News, in addition to causing beach closures, Tuesday’s spill “prompted a local water utility to stop drawing water from the lake out of ‘an abundance of caution,’ the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.”

The EPA is leading an investigation into the wastewater spill into the waterway, which the agency says is just 100 yards away from Lake Michigan.

Hexavalent chromium carries several health risks. The Occupation Safety and Health Administration warns of the risk of “lung cancer in workers who breathe airborne hexavalent chromium, irritation or damage to the nose, throat, and lung (respiratory tract) if hexavalent chromium is breathed at high levels, [and] irritation or damage to the eyes and skin if hexavalent chromium contacts these organs in high concentrations.

Skin contact with chromium can also cause dermatitis and skin ulcers, and the EPA cautions that ingesting it, particularly through drinking water, can also lead to dermatitis. It claims it is reviewing the results of a long-term 2008 study that “suggested that chromium-6 may be a human carcinogen if ingested.”

It is difficult to estimate the spill’s potential health hazards, especially because the amount of wastewater leaked through the broken pipe has not yet been disclosed.

U.S. Steel said it is working with authorities to ensure proper cleanup:

Additional steps to mitigate the impact are being taken. These steps include the isolation and repair of the damaged pipe, recovery of material, and the addition of a water treatment compound, sodium trithiocarbonate (CNa2S3), to the wastewater treatment plant to convert and aid in the removal of hexavalent chromium.”


We are gathering information right now. It is too early to tell if there is an impact on the town,” said Ogden Dunes Town Council President Tim Nelson. Save the Dunes, a conservancy organization, warned that “people and pets should avoid direct contact with Lake Michigan.”

In shutting down the beaches, the National Park Service warned that residents “should avoid contact with the water of Lake Michigan or Burns Waterway in the West Beach and Portage Lakefront areas until further notice.

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BandGap's picture

Calling Erin Brockovich!

Looney's picture


Blame it on Assad.   ;-)


konputa's picture

More fallout from Russian hacking...

Yukon Cornholius's picture

Think of the state of the 60 year old nuke factories. Actually, I'd rather not.

Son of Loki's picture

Just in time for summa vakay-shun!

hestroy's picture

Putin did it! Another chemical attack!

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Holy SHIT! The Dihydrogen Monoxide near there will KILL you in a matter of minutes! It is a dastardly substance that suffocates you. Normally you are dead within five minutes.


(Insert panic attack, running in circles screaming, here.)

El Oregonian's picture

Indiana: "Home of bad Chrome-a-zones".

HockeyFool's picture

Too bad there is not any actual information in this article. Like how much chromium was in the watewater? Without that data this is simply disaster porn. Meant to stir up the masses.

NAVIGATOR0832's picture

Or the many Japanese generation 1 General Electric nuclear power plants.  

Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) BandGap Apr 13, 2017 11:29 AM

This is news?

This is from 1980...


.From this EPA report 1980...

"Unfortuantley the Great Lakes have also been the most abused bodies of water in our country. Intensive Industrial, agricultural, and municipal uses have left a trail of pollution that by the 1960's attracted worldwide attention..."


BandGap's picture

My well is 1.25 miles from Lake Michigan. I'm good with it, have it tested every year. Back in 1980 they were most concerned with mercury. There were actually guidelines on how many of what fish you could eat from Lake Michigan, based on the fish uptake of Hg. This condition no longer exists.

The biggest threat to the Great Lakes is the fucking Asian Carp. Whoever finds a cure for that one will win millions.


NAVIGATOR0832's picture

Methyl mercury used in the old paper industry along Lake Michigan never really breaks down.  It simply settles and gets stirred up everytime there is a storm.  I still wouldn't eat the fish. 

BandGap's picture

Paper industry is dead nationwide and mercury levels do diminish over time. They test the fish and they are good. Lake Trout used to be bad 25 years ago, but no more.

Takeaction2's picture
Takeaction2 (not verified) BandGap Apr 13, 2017 12:13 PM

Asian Carp eh?  We have a problem like that here in Oregon.  In the Columbia River.

You get $8 a fish...

One guy made an extra $119,000 last year...

Anteater's picture

I know the Fish and Game scientist who developed the pikeminnow sport fishery, before it got away from them, lol.

And how did it get away? Pikeminnow eat juvenile salmon. So he extirpated the Columbia salmon industry, for sport.

The agency idea was to get more fishing license review from the Columbia Basin. There were five levels of government

bureaucracy over the Columbia fisheries resource, and they all approved the idea. Moar revenues for their pensions!

So now tax revenue goes towards a fruitless attempt to stop the plunge in salmon migration returns, by killing pike.

But not THEIR tax revenue! They tap FEDERAL INCOME TAX REVENUE for control of 'invasive species', ha,ha,ha,ha.

We're gonna need a bigger boat!

detached.amusement's picture

reminds me of the goddam lamprey in lake champlain.  I remember it used to be so pristine, you walked to the shore and dipped your coffee pot in when camping there.


Anteater's picture

I remember as a kid a massive alewives die-off near those Waukegan plants, beaches for miles piles up to my ankles in rotting fish. That was back when the National Watch Company dumped hot radium waste into the Chicago Ship Canal, and we'd go at night on 4ofJuly to watch the fireworks over the bright green glowing fire of the canal. The newspapers claimed that the alewives had 'overpopulated', lol. That was back when there were actually big lake trout eating those alewives and fishing was a blast. A huge fisheries resource, decapitated by industry dumping waste. Oh, and the lamprey, that's it. The lamprey did it. And the shiney carp. Oh, they'll destroy a fishery, you betcha!

Trump is gonna bring that all back again. Lakes on fire. Remember the lakes on fire? Rainbow oil sheens on all the rivers. Choking dense smog. Coal country moonscapes.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

FORD_FIESTA's picture

I used to haul in and out of the old South Works Plant back in the 70's. The crap that got dumped in the lake is unfuckinbelievable.......before the EPA was created......put it on the roads....aka RUSSEL BLISS anyone?    HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Cold War Kid's picture

Sweet, just quit that company and strategically relocated away from that city. Right in time apparently. I wonder how much got sucked into the drinking water in-flows before somebody noticed a pipe was broken.

jmack's picture

Good thing they weren'tfracking, that would have really messed up the drinking water...

VWAndy's picture

 How much and how concentrated?  5 gallons or 5 million gallons? Without that info we dont know jack.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Without that info we dont know jack.

I am Jack's complete lack of facts?

I am Jack's irritated or damaged nose, throat, lungs, eyes, dermatitis, and skin ulcers?

I am Jack's captured regulatory agency?

VWAndy's picture

 Yep without any facts it hardly is helpfull in any way. Might as well call it hinting instead of news.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

That's exactly what it is.  One side suggests to another, "we'll either brush this under the rug or blow it up."  The other side either picks up the card or says "go fish".  They communicate right under our noses.

ronaldwilsonreagan's picture

It doesn't anyways the Orange Hitler has deemed all these chemicals essential minerals. It is now part of a balanced diet.

NumNutt's picture

Oh no!!! it will kill off all the invasive Chinese fish species that ae now thriving. what will we do?

NAVIGATOR0832's picture

We could catch the contaminated Chinese carp and ship them back to China for their consumption.  

tuetenueggel's picture

ask chinese to supply some new ones, chemical approved not this rubbish shitty as last time.

Zest's picture

I'm sure it'll all be fine. Everything's in control.



tuetenueggel's picture

move on please  move on. nothing to be seen here, please move on.......

Deep Snorkeler's picture

There is a point where the Earth's environment fights back and kills us.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


We will kill each other long before Mother would do that.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

It's because I like you that I ask, what do you mean by "mother"?

hedgeless_horseman's picture


He started it, with the personification!

Am I going to hell for this?

swmnguy's picture

Quick!  Slash funding for the EPA and OSHA!  Otherwise it might cost the Rockefellers some money, and we can't have that!

tuetenueggel's picture

Give them a bucket of this pure lakewater for drinking.

There are far to much Rockefellers and Rothschilds on this earth.

Aubiekong's picture

One pipe, one valve, that's all  between safety and a disaster?  Who designs these plants?  You would think that they would be designed with multiple layers of safety so one pipe and one valve couldn't lead to an accident.  Same thing with the Japanese nuclear plant who lost power when their generators where taken out by a tidal wave.  They should have had 10 ways to get power not just two...

tuetenueggel's picture

you don´t understand it ?

every safety calve costs hundreds of dollars. some spoiled lake beaches cost nothing.

quax's picture

Who do think is supposed to enforce environmental regulations and enforce them?

Oh yeah, that would be the EPA that will now be shrunken to half its size.

Smedley's Butler's picture

Even Hitler never used hexavalent chromium...

Bemused Observer's picture

Indiana beaches...I'm sure they're nice, (or they WERE) but they aren't REAL beaches, like ocean beaches. They are LAKE beaches...*shudder*. 


Lakes are lovely when you are in a boat. But lake-bottoms are beyond gross and creepy..."What the hell WAS that I just stepped on?". Inland waters have to be moving fast for me to expose any bare flesh, fast enough to leave only rocks on bottom.


And lakes tend to have those smelly 'stagnant pockets'...its a very distinctive smell, a fermented 'green' smell.