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US Steel spill closes 2 Indiana beaches on Lake Michigan

The United States Steel Gary Works plant juts out of the landscape at the south end of the beach at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore October 12, 2007 in Gary, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

PORTAGE, Ind. — Federal authorities say a potentially carcinogenic chemical has spilled from a U.S. Steel facility in Indiana into a tributary of Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the company reported Tuesday that it leaked an unknown amount of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into Burns Waterway in Portage, Indiana, within 100 yards of the lake.

EPA spokeswoman Rachel Bassler says sampling found no sign that hexavalent chromium entered Lake Michigan.

Utility Indiana American Water says it’s no longer taking water from Lake Michigan as a precaution, and is relying on reserves.

The National Park Service has temporarily closed the West Beach and Portage Lakefront beachfront areas and warns that people and pets must avoid contact with water there until further notice.

The EPA has said hexavalent chromium might be carcinogenic if ingested.