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Chicago agency finds high chemical level in lake

Chicago agency finds high chemical level in lake

The city of Chicago conducted its own sampling at its water intake and in Lake Michigan one mile from the U.S. Steel facility where the spill occurred, the spokeswoman said, and reported that samples taken about a mile north of Burns Waterway detected a hexalavent chromium level of 2 parts per billion.

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

EPA sampling today and yesterday has not detected hexavalent chromium from the spill in Lake Michigan.

Indiana American Water, which operates a water treatment plant at nearby Ogden Dunes that draws water from the lake about two miles from Burns Waterway, temporarily shuttered that plant following the spill, and is instead tapping water reserves.

The National Park Service (NPS) has also closed four beaches in the area of the spill "as a precaution to protect the health of park visitors, " warning that people and pets "should have no contact with the water of Lake Michigan or Burns Waterway".

The plant has sat idle since Tuesday, when the company said an expansion joint failed in a pipe, allowing wastewater to flow into the wrong treatment plant at the Portage complex.

The National Park Service has closed beaches around a chemical spill on Lake Michigan Thursday, April 13, 2017.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that all beaches within a three-mile radius of the hexavalent chromium discharge be closed.

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

It's a higher level than what normally would be found in lake water, but just a fraction of the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion for chromium, the agency said.

The EPA said it recommended that U.S. Steel delay the restart until the agency had sufficient data to show there were no lingering effects to the tributary or Lake Michigan. That's not a drinking water standard. "Recent sampling has indicated we are in compliance with our water permit limits". The supply of water from the Borman Park facility is adequate to meet the needs of the company's customers in Northwest Indiana, he said.

U.S. Steel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition, USS said, "all production processes were shut down and additional steps (taken) to mitigate the impact". The resulting legal action against the utility-dramatized in the film Erin Brockovich-resulted in a $333-million settlement.