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The Reflection

Lake Michigan left untested after chemical spill

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Michigan is known for our vast and beautiful lakes, but chemicals such as hexavalent chromium can change that. This October, Lake Michigan was not tested for any chemicals after a large pollutant spill in a tributary that flows right into the lake–there was visible solids according to a Government issued report.

Lake Michigan risks chemicals damaging underground water, surface water, the soil, and the surrounding flora. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The spill itself occurred on October 25 near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, originating from the U.S. Steel plant. An estimated 57 pounds of hexavalent chromium was leaked due to pipe failure, causing contaminated water escape instead of reaching the water treatment plant. Hexavalent Chromium is a cancer causing substance that is readily known to target the eyes, kidney, liver, skin, and respiratory system for humans and animals alike.

“By the time the hexavalent chromium gets to Lake Michigan it could possibly dilute enough to not have major effects.” said Gull Lake chemistry teacher, Brad Portis.“The ground should still be tested where it meets Lake Michigan because then the chemical can still be captured.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this the U.S. Steel plant has experienced a minor leak. In April U.S. Steel experienced a chromium spill.

Indiana State regulators reported to the Chicago Tribune stating that U.S. Steel did not test Burns waterway after their spill; one critical tributary that flows straight into Lake Michigan.

For the most recent report, State Inspectors released to the public that:

“Visual evidence of operational deficiencies, such as discolored effluent or solids leaving the facility … should lead the facility to monitor for hexavalent chromium to determine the extent of the impact, even if the on-site personnel believe there will be none or little.”

Lainie Scott

This is my senior year at Gull Lake High school, and my second year apart of The Reflection staff.  This year I am the feature/entertainment editor, and I am looking forward to see where my writing can take me.


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