By Sarah Reese
As cyanide and ammonia flowed down the east branch of the Little Calumet River in mid-August toward the Burns Waterway and Lake Michigan, boaters swam in the waterway, surfers rode the waves near its mouth and grandparents swam with their grandkids in the lake.
It wasn’t until days later that any of them learned they might have been exposed to toxic chemicals.
The releases from two outfalls at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor the week of Aug. 11 killed about 3,000 fish and kept visitors away from Indiana’s newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park for more than a week.
The Clean Water Act authorizes penalties of up to $50,000 per day per violation, said Rob Weinstock, an attorney at the University of Chicago Law School’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic.