As Mayor of the City of Hammond and a lover of birds, I continue to be concerned about the death of migratory birds found in and around Wolf Lake. As reported, numerous communities around the Midwest have discovered dead birds and fish in and around inland lakes and natural areas this spring. Many different theories have been put forth as the cause including the harsh winter weather in February, an avian cholera outbreak (for the bird deaths), as well as non-natural, man-made causes.
I want to assure the public that members of the Hammond Port Authority have partnered with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) investigating this incident. IDNR responded to the area and secured tissue samples from the deceased waterfowl for analysis by necropsy. While we wait for those results from the state, I wanted to continue to pro-actively gain additional data in and around Wolf Lake and to report those results to our residents and those that utilize Wolf Lake.
I ordered our Hammond Sanitary District (HSD) to secure water samples from Wolf Lake and test the samples for any anomalies. I also ordered our Department of Environmental Management (HDEM) to gather soil sample data to check for heavy metals along Wolf Lake Channel, near where the waterfowl were found, using the Department’s X-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF). Last, I ordered samples to be taken of what residents reported as “sludge” found in the south parking lot of the Wolf Lake Pavilion (PAV). An IDEM emergency responder also investigated the report of “sludge” being deposited on the parking lot at the PAV, which was actually fill requested by the Port Authority for a parking lot project this summer. The city put to use the tools and resources it had to help report its findings.
The information and data gathered by the HSD and HDEM have been provided to both the IDNR and IDEM to assist in their investigative efforts.
The water sample at Wolf Lake taken by the HSD, and verified by a certified outside laboratory, indicated the sample met water standards and thus posed no environmental risk. The samples measured below detectable ranges or well below any reportable range.
HDEM took 21 soil samples along the East shore of the Wolf Lake Channel from just South of where 115th would intersect if it were extended, and then North along the shore, up to Indianapolis Boulevard. All the sample results were shown to be well below any United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) or IDEM remediation standards.
Lastly, HDEM took 5 soil samples from the fill material found at the South Parking Lot of Wolf Lake Pavilion. The analysis showed the material had very low level of metals and well within the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards for residential soil and suitable for the use the Port Authority intends to utilize it for at the parking lot project. This material was only recently received and is not related to the prior deaths of the waterfowl at Wolf Lake.
The analytical tools the city has available have been used to help determine, or rule out, the possible cause of death of these waterfowl. The data gathered by the water testing and soil testing does not point to either as being a cause of death of the waterfowl. The results of the analysis of the tissue samples will provide the best information as to the cause or causes of death and we await these results from the State of Indiana. Hammond’s environmental sampling was performed to assist in that determination.
Let me reiterate, all of the data listed above has been provided to both the IDNR and IDEM.
For further information:
Hammond Port Authority efforts – Milan Kruszynski, Director 219-659-7678
Hammond Sanitary District - water sampling – Jeff Massey, Superintendent of Wastewater Treatment 219-853-6413 Ext. 524
Hammond Department of Environmental Management – soil sampling – Ronald L. Novak, Director 219-853-6306