Portage Port Authority plans to sue ArcelorMittal after chemical spill

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PORTAGE, Ind. — After a chemical spill earlier last week in northern Indiana, the Portage Port Authority said it’s planning to file a lawsuit against the steel company involved for violating the Clean Water Act.

The Portage Mayor John Cannon said he had to find out about the pollution in the newspaper last week and that’s not the way it should have happened.

Cannon is now trying to reassure residents drinking water is safe, even though some Lake Michigan beaches remain closed after a chemical spill killed thousands of fish in the Little Calumet River.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management continued to test waters in Lake Michigan for excess levels of cyanide and ammonia.

Friday, ArcelorMittal, the steel company being blamed for the pollution, released a statement taking responsibility for the spill. It said the incident happened "Despite having safeguards in place and conducting regular sampling in accordance with permits."

While the company said it’s working to make sure it doesn’t happen again, Portage’s mayor is also urging changes. Specifically next time, he wants somebody to tell him.

“We need to know about that, instantly," Cannon said. "Warn our residents, warn visitors to stay away from those areas.”

He said he found out about the spill in the newspaper and then rushed to the Port Authority’s marina to see the dead fish for himself.

“They’re just belly up," Cannon said.

While the city said it does not plan to sue the steel company, the Port Authority is gearing up for a lawsuit.

Surfers said they were on the water last week when beaches were supposed to be closed. They said they were never told about the pollution.

Cleanup efforts were expected to be completed Saturday.

ArcelorMittal was sued earlier this year in federal court for violating the Clean Air Act.

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