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Beaches at America's newest national park closed after a nearby factory leaked cyanide into a tributary, killing 3,000 fish


Frightening developments

Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

Officials closed beaches at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk area at the Indiana Dunes National Park on Friday because of a cyanide leak from a nearby steel factory.

What are the details?

The National Park Service issued the closure at the park — which is the newest national park in the U.S. — when the steel factory leaked cyanide into a tributary of Lake Michigan.

The spill, which emptied into the Little Calumet River, reportedly killed 3,000 fish.

At the time of this writing, the areas impacted by the spill remain closed.

John Cannon, mayor of Portage, Indiana, said that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management waited several days after the incident to make news of the accident public.

"The biggest concern I had was that the city was not aware of any kind of difficulty in our waterway until Thursday when thousands of dead fish show up in our marina," Cannon told TIME. "We can handle the truth. Let us know what is going on, and we can advise our residents in a proper manner without panicking."

Cannon insisted that the spill did not cause any harmful effects to the area's drinking water supply.

The city of Portage acknowledged the incident in a Facebook post, promising that the city would take "aggressive action with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the breakdown of communication, like this, does not happen again."

What did the company say?

The steel factory in question — ArcelorMittal — took responsibility for the accident.

In a statement, the company said, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the 3,000 fish estimated by [Indiana Department of Natural Resources] that were killed as a result of the incident and are working collaboratively with governmental agencies and other stakeholders to address the impacts that occurred."

The Times of Northwest Indiana reported that the city is looking to sue the company over the mishap.

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