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IDEM and DNR Responding to Reported Fish Kill

Sampling Documents

Updates

August 26, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) now has six rounds of sampling data from the responsible party, ArcelorMittal, from the East Arm of the Little Calumet River and along the Lake Michigan shoreline, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. All sample results were well below the federal Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant level for cyanide of .2 mg/l. Sample results can be found on IDEM's website.

Timeline of Events

On Monday, August 12, 2019, DNR received a citizen complaint of a distressed fish in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. Both IDEM and DNR investigated and observed one distressed fish, but found no dead fish or any other indicators of a larger problem. Tuesday evening, August 13, 2019, additional complaints were received identifying the presence of numerous dead fish. IDEM and DNR conducted reconnaissance on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, and observed that a significant fish die off had occurred. The cause, at that time, was unknown. In the course of investigating potential sources, IDEM learned that ArcelorMittal violated its daily maximum limit for ammonia-nitrogen.

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, IDEM was notified by ArcelorMittal that they had violated the daily maximum limit for total cyanide. When IDEM received this information, agency staff immediately alerted local media, environmental organizations, and local officials including Indiana American Water and the mayor of Portage. In addition, IDEM notified ArcelorMittal that they were responsible for initiating a spill response to include in-stream monitoring and increased monitoring of its outfalls to the Little Calumet River.

In response to a directive from IDEM to identify the cause of the exceedances, ArcelorMittal stated that their blast furnace closed water loop station failed. On the Noncompliance Report submitted to IDEM on Thursday, August 15, 2019, ArcelorMittal stated that this failure occurred on Sunday, August 11, 2019.

IDEM compliance staff will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this incident. They will also make a determination as to whether any violations occurred.

August 22, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) received results from the responsible party, ArcelorMittal, for sampling conducted on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River and along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. Although some of the samples were above the detection limit for cyanide, all sample results were well below the federal Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant level for cyanide of .2 mg/l. This follows sampling of similar locations by IDEM and ArcelorMittal on Sunday and Monday, August 18-19, 2019, which found no detections of cyanide in any of the samples. Sample results can be found on IDEM's website.

IDEM continues to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to coordinate the response to this incident in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

Additional information about cyanide [PDF] can be found on ATSDR’s website.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 21, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) received results from the responsible party, ArcelorMittal, for sampling conducted on Monday, August 19, 2019, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. No detections of cyanide were found in any of the sample results. This follows sampling of similar locations by IDEM on Sunday, August 18, 2019, which also found no detections of cyanide.

Sample results can be found on IDEM's website.

IDEM continues to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to coordinate the response to this incident in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

Additional information about cyanide [PDF] can be found on ATSDR’s website.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 20, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) conducted sampling at 12 locations in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River as well as along the shoreline of Lake Michigan including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. No detections of cyanide were found in any of the sample results.

Indiana American Water has confirmed that no detections of cyanide have been found in their water and they have seen no impact on the raw water parameters they are monitoring for at their Ogden Dunes treatment facility.

IDEM and DNR continue to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to coordinate the response to this incident in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

Additional information about cyanide [PDF] can be found on ATSDR’s website.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 19, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - Based on two rounds of sampling conducted by the responsible party, ArcelorMittal, no in stream sample has exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The primary human health exposure pathway from this incident for cyanide is incidental ingestion.

Per a directive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), ArcelorMittal increased sampling at its outfalls to the Little Calumet River and commenced daily sampling of the receiving water in the area from its outfalls to the mouth of Lake Michigan. On Sunday, August 18, 2019, IDEM received the first round of sampling results from ArcelorMittal. Although one sample showed low levels of cyanide beyond the break wall of the Little Calumet River, the levels detected at this location were well below the MCL for drinking water. As a precaution, however, IDEM directed ArcelorMittal to expand the sampling area to include the Lake Michigan shoreline to the west, including Ogden Dunes and West Beach. IDEM staff have also collected samples in these same areas. Results of the sampling conducted along the Lake Michigan shoreline are pending.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has estimated the number of dead fish at 3,000. This includes panfish, shad, channel catfish, bass and walleye. IDEM staff have not observed any additional dead or distressed fish in the area.

Indiana American Water has confirmed that no detections of cyanide have been found in their water and they have seen no impact on the raw water parameters they are monitoring for at their Ogden Dunes treatment facility.

IDEM and DNR continue to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to coordinate the response to this incident in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

Additional information about cyanide [PDF] can be found on ATSDR’s website.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 16, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working closely to coordinate the response to a reported fish kill in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

On Monday, August 12, 2019, DNR received a citizen complaint of a distressed fish in the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. Both IDEM and DNR investigated and observed one distressed fish. Tuesday evening, August 13, 2019, additional complaints were received identifying the presence of numerous dead fish. IDEM and DNR conducted reconnaissance on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, and observed that a significant fish die off had occurred. The cause, at that time, was unknown. In the course of investigating potential sources, IDEM learned that ArcelorMittal violated its daily maximum limits of ammonia-nitrogen.

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, IDEM was notified by ArcelorMittal that they had violated the daily maximum limit for total cyanide. When IDEM received this information, agency staff alerted local media, environmental organizations, and local officials including Indiana American Water and the mayor of Portage. In addition, IDEM notified ArcelorMittal that they were responsible for initiating a spill response to include in-stream monitoring and increased monitoring of its outfalls to the Little Calumet River.

In response to a directive from IDEM to identify the cause of the exceedances, ArcelorMittal stated that their blast furnace closed water loop station failed. IDEM continues to investigate the cause.

IDEM and DNR ask residents to continue to avoid this area while cleanup efforts are ongoing. ArcelorMittal’s contractor is on scene to conduct a cleanup of the dead fish and has notified IDEM that cleanup efforts should be complete by Saturday, August 17, 2019.

Indiana American Water has stated they have seen no impact on the raw water parameters they are monitoring for at their Ogden Dunes treatment facility. As a precaution, they have reduced flow through that facility and are continuing to closely monitor the situation.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 15, 2019

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are currently responding to a reported fish kill in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind.

IDEM has learned that ArcelorMittal experienced exceedances of the daily maximum limit for total cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen. These exceedances appear to be the cause or a significant contributing factor to the mortality of the fish observed on the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. IDEM has requested that the facility initiate a spill response along with increased monitoring of its outfalls to the Little Calumet River. IDEM and DNR ask residents to continue to avoid this area while cleanup and mitigation efforts are ongoing.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

August 15, 2019

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are currently responding to a reported fish kill in the East Branch of the Little Calumet River in Portage, Ind. Both agencies are asking the public to avoid the area while cleanup and mitigation efforts are ongoing. We will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information.

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