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News Releases from Region 05

EPA continues response to chemical spill from U.S. Steel’s Portage, Ind., facility

Contact Information: 
Rachel Bassler (

Chicago (April 12, 2017) -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emergency responders continued a second day of intensive water sampling efforts following U.S. Steel’s report yesterday that its Portage, Ind., facility had released hexavalent chromium to Burns Waterway – about 100 yards from Lake Michigan. U.S. Steel has reported to EPA that its release has been stopped at the source. It’s not known how much has been spilled.

EPA sampling today and yesterday has not detected hexavalent chromium from the spill in Lake Michigan. Yesterday, in an abundance of caution, Indiana American Water in Ogden Dunes -- the nearest municipal water source -- shut down its water intake and switched to a reserve water supply. The National Park Service also closed four beaches (east and west of Burns Ditch) and a riverwalk at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The intake, beaches and riverwalk remain closed today.

Today, EPA continues to conduct sampling at the outfall, water intake, beaches and Burns Ditch.

  • Outfall results still show detectable hexavalent chromium in the waterway. Overnight, levels at the outfall were as high as 2,231 ug/L.
  • Water intake results initially showed hexavalent chromium levels slightly above the detection limit. A confirmation run on that same sample showed that it was at or below the detection limit, well below EPA’s health-based standard for drinking water.
  • EPA and the National Park Service have identified additional locations for water and sediment sampling along the lakeshore (east and west of Burns Ditch).

EPA is working closely with the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, the City of Portage, the water company and NPS. EPA will provide another update on April 13.  For more information, visit