Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. has announced that with the sudden death of over 12 swans around the George Lake area, he has instructed the Hammond Department of Environmental Management (HDEM) to begin testing the area around the Lost Marsh Golf Course for the presence of abnormal amounts of lead in the soil.
Ron Novak and his HDEM team will use a recently purchased Olympus Vanta C Series analyzer to test the soil. This analyzer is a handheld x-ray fluorescence (XRF) device that provides rapid, accurate element analysis and alloy identification with laboratory-quality results in the field. XRF analyzers can measure the following metals in soli: antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, thallium, tin, uranium and about 17 other metals.
This type of incident is obviously unusual, and we think the high lead levels found in the swans carcasses came from a recent fire at Whiting Metals on September 20, 2018. That fire started in the bag house and had to be put out by the Hammond Firefighters, resulting in the escape of lead particles meant to be captured in Whiting Metals bag house.
“I want the residents of this section of Hammond to know that we are taking this situation seriously,” stated Mayor McDermott. “The area around the Lost Marsh Golf Course was the area the prevailing winds on September 20th would have carried the discharge from the Whiting Metals fire. We will obviously keep everyone in the loop as we receive the results from these soil tests.”