Plant Dumps Cyanide Into Little Calumet River, Killing Fish and Shutting Down Indiana Dunes

An Indiana steel factory discarded toxic levels of cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen in the Little Calumet River, killing fish and closing down parts of the Indiana Dunes Wednesday.

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which is doing the investigation, said a steel plant owned by ArcelorMittal dumped excess quantities of cyanide and ammonia-nitrogen into the east branch of the river, causing numerous fish to die. The department said it invited ArcelorMittal to help clean up the spill and observe the chemical concentration in the Little Calumet River.

The National Park Service said it shut the water out to 300 feet at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk beach area of the Indiana Dunes National Park. Parts of the Little Calumet River were shut between Highway 149 and 249, the park service said. The trails is still open. The waters will be shut until the reason of the spill is found, the park service said. Inhabitants were told to avoid eating fish from the spill area.

A representative for ArcelorMittal said in an announcement that the company was "concerned" about the cyanide and ammonia quantity in the water, and that it was investigating the source and working with all agencies involved. 

“We will continue to work closely with the agencies involved and provide updates as appropriate," ArcelorMittal's statement reads, adding that the company was also notified of an oil spill at the Port of Indiana, which it also continues to investigate. "ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor is committed to environmental compliance and takes both situations very seriously. We will continue working cooperatively with the agencies involved on each matter to identify the responsible party and/or source and address accordingly.”