Chemicals found in Lake Michigan water, affected Porter Beach - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Industrial chemicals found in Lake Michigan water, affected Porter Beach

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PORTER, Ind. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Preliminary reports show industrial chemicals seeped into Lake Michigan on Monday afternoon, causing the closure of a northwest Indiana beach, the Post-Tribune is reporting.

The closure affected Porter Beach, and officials say Chicago beaches are not expected to be affected.

A preliminary report from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management showed the water contained small concentrations of tricalcium orthophosphate, used as a fertilizer and food additive; maple syrup; and gluconic acid, used to clean metals, according to Indiana Department of Natural Resources Officer Gene Davis.

"At this point, we still don't know if the risk to people is high enough, so we're waiting on the chemist's report," Davis said. "We want to err on the side of caution, so we've recommended that people stay out of the water but we're not closing the beaches."

Davis said it's unknown at this point where the chemicals were coming from, but the chemist's report should give them a better idea.

National Park Service spokesman Bruce Rowe said the waters at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are not closed, but the park does have a swimming advisory in place.

Chicago Park District spokeswoman Zvez Kubat said Chicago beaches aren't expected to be affected but the National Weather Service issued a beach hazard statement due to rough surf and choppy waters.

On Monday, Rowe said visitors at Porter Beach noticed that kids were coming out of the water with a sticky film on them. They looked out in the water and there was a large area with a silvery-metallic sheen, so emergency responders were contacted and people were told to get out of the water shortly before 2 p.m., Rowe said.

Rowe said there were no reports of health effects at this time. With winds coming out of the north and 3-foot waves, Davis said the weather conditions should work to disseminate the chemicals through the water, breaking up the concentration.

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