East Chicago

The City of East Chicago is working to replace lead pipes in up to 800 homes near the USS Lead Superfund site. Residents found out at a public meeting Thursday night some lead lines are only getting partially replaced leaving those residents still at risk. 

Nathan Holth / http://historicbridges.org

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — Dredging of a ship canal in northwest Indiana has begun as environmental regulators continue to study off-site disposal options for highly contaminated sediments, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lauren Cross / The Times

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — Authorities in Indiana are continuing an investigation into a weekend shooting that wounded two off-duty police officers.

The Times reports that both officers were patrons at Growlers Bar in Highland, Indiana, when they were shot early Saturday.

The officers are from East Chicago and Gary.

The Environmental Protection Agency visited East Chicago, Indiana, Saturday, to update residents on contamination cleanup.

EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp and U.S. EPA senior advisor Albert Kelly attended the briefing and listened to public comment.

Residents heard updates from the on-site remediation coordinators and participated in, sometimes heated, Q&A sessions. Those comments were heard loud and clear, says Kelly.

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Chair Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) says the events help lawmakers tell constituents about the results of the legislative session and give citizens an opportunity to connect with their government. (Lauren Chapman/IP
Brandon Smith

  

Indiana’s black state legislators will hold a series of town halls around the state, beginning this weekend.

This is the third year for the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus’s town halls. Caucus Chair Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) says the events help lawmakers tell constituents about the results of the legislative session and give citizens an opportunity to connect with their government.

Crews begin tearing down a portion of the West Calumet Housing Complex on April 2. They drench the debris to prevent the spread of lead and arsenic contamination to the surrounding neighborhood. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Lauren Chapman

Demolition began Monday afternoon on East Chicago’s West Calumet Housing Complex, but the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site still leaves former residents concerned for their future.

An excavator slowly tore down a duplex at the corner of Magnolia Lave and Aster Avenue as water canons sprayed onto and surrounding the building to prevent any contamination.

House Approves Controversial School Management Bill

Feb 1, 2018

House lawmakers are moving forward with a controversial school financial management bill. Lawmakers debated HB 1315 for nearly two hours Thursday before passing it, and some members, including Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago), say they’re concerned the legislation takes too much power away from the locally elected school boards of struggling schools.

“I’m very much uncomfortable with us taking away the will of the voters in terms of the school board. The school board is voted in,” Harris says.

Bills Would Allow In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students

Jan 5, 2018

Two bills filed in the Indiana General Assembly would give different ways for immigrants who graduate from an Indiana high school to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Since 2011 Indiana makes immigrant students who cannot prove state residency pay the more expensive out-of-state tuition rate. It is one of three states with this requirement.

Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) says Senate Bill 319 would help with a priority of the Republican supermajority: to better prepare students for jobs.

John J. Watkins / Indiana Economic Digest

EAST CHICAGO - An ArcelorMittal spokeperson says innovation is underway at the Northwest Indiana steel company.  It's for that reason David White, ArcelorMittal Director of Process Research in Global Research and Development, says he believes the future of steel is very bright.

White, who is based at ArcelorMittal's East Chicago location, says the company is currently  making products for the automotive industry, that he says will make automobiles more efficient and safer.  The company is making new products for other industries, outside of automotive.

The cleanup for part of an East Chicago, Indiana toxic waste site will cost nearly four times more than originally expected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the site’s cleanup, will open an opportunity for public comments Monday, Dec. 18.

The EPA initially estimated cleanup for the residential area of the USS Lead Superfund site would cost $23 million. But, a new agency report says the estimate should be closer to $85 million.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will accelerate cleanup of 21 toxic waste sites across the country, including a lead- and arsenic-contaminated site in East Chicago, Indiana.

The EPA wants to expedite soil cleanup and finalize a plan for what to do with a now-abandoned public housing complex after it’s demolished at the USS Lead site in the northwest Indiana city.

Attorney David Chizewer says it’s not immediately clear if that’s helpful.

More than 30 East Chicago homeowners last week sued several companies the federal government holds responsible for toxic industrial contamination.

Those companies include DuPont, Atlantic Richfield, British Petroleum, U.S.S. Lead and Mueller Industries.

The lawsuit alleges those companies caused property loss to residents who live in a lead-contaminated Superfund site and that, “[f]or decades, Defendants’ lead smelting, lead refining, and other manufacturing processes wreaked environmental havoc in the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago.”

Twitter / Gary Police Department logo

GARY - The Gary Police Department is investigating a fatal shooting that killed a 16-year-old boy in injured another man, a 20-year-old.  Public Information Officer Lieutenant Dawn Westerfield says officers responded just before 6:30 p.m. Thursday to the 400 block of South Huntington Street.

Indiana Receives Approval To Expand Lead Testing

Oct 18, 2017

Two Indiana state agencies received approval to use federal money to expand lead testing, particularly for low-income Hoosiers.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration will be able to use $3 million a year for the next five years to provide lead testing and prevention services.

Children at the East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy school learned how to test air, water, and soil samples for lead Tuesday with help from the NAACP.

The school sits right across the street from the USS Lead Superfund site, a federal toxic waste clean-up site contaminated with lead and arsenic.

Principal Veronica Eskew says the lead testing let her students take ownership over how lead poisoning affects them.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving East Chicago nearly $4.1 million to tear down a contaminated former public housing site.

The money must be used within a year – though HUD hasn’t officially approved the city’s controversial demolition plan for the West Calumet Housing Complex.

HUD classified the demolition as public housing emergency work as it issued the new grant money. The federal agency says it’s needed to prevent danger to human health “because of limited capital funding currently available to the housing authority.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will sit down with state lawmakers at East Chicago’s lead-contaminated public housing complex Monday.

The visit comes five months after three Indiana congressmen invited Carson to the USS Lead Superfund site, which is contaminated with high levels of lead and arsenic from old factories.

Indiana stands to lose out if Congress approves proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, says environmentalists, scientists, EPA staffers, and Indiana residents.

The cuts could affect drinking water infrastructure, burden the state’s environmental regulatory agency, and hinder efforts to clean up industrial toxic waste sites.

Blood, Lead & Soil: A Year In East Chicago

Jul 26, 2017

One year ago, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland told residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex they had to move out because of lead and arsenic contamination.

The announcement sparked a year of frantic action from residents, public officials, activists, and lawyers that’s still ongoing.

Indiana Public Broadcasting (IPB News) has won two national Public Radio News Directors Incorporated Awards (PRNDI), for the 2016 coverage of the lead contamination crisis in East Chicago, Indiana.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving forward with a plan to demolish East Chicago’s lead-contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex.

Residents had many questions and received few answers at a tense public meeting about the environmental review of the plan Monday night.

The city of East Chicago finished relocating more than 1,000 housing complex residents this spring. Officials plan to demolish the complex’s buildings later this year.

HUD must first sign off.

Federal housing officials will hold a public hearing Monday night on plans to tear down a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago. The demolition plan got federal environmental approval last month, but residents want a chance to raise concerns.

Residents from the West Calumet Housing Complex area wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development this month. They asked for a public hearing and more time to comment on the demolition plan.

The federal government continues to oppose intervention by a group of East Chicago, Indiana, residents, who are asking a U.S. District Court to give them a larger role in the clean up of their lead and arsenic contaminated neighborhood.

The East Chicago residents were first turned down in May by Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry.

He ruled, “This case was closed over two years ago. To allow [the residents] to intervene now…would be highly prejudicial to the parties, who have already negotiated, settled, and obtained judgement in this case.”

East Chicago - Since the closure and demolition of the Cline Avenue bridge residents have lost more than just a short cut to the casino's they lost a vital transportation link that has impacted economic development in the area. A new bridge is in the works and Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore has an update.

Figg Bridge Partners

Today: It's Reporters Roundtable, when we ask members of the northwest Indiana and Indiana media to talk about the stories they worked on this week.  On this edition of the Roundtable are Greg Tejeda of the Post-Tribune, Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore, Indiana Public Broadcasting's Eric Weddle and INside Indiana Business host Andy Ober.

Indiana To Begin Testing For Lead In Public School Water

May 30, 2017

State officials plan to investigate the drinking water of over 700 Indiana public schools for lead contamination this summer. Officials will travel the state to collect samples from drinking fountains, kitchen sinks and other fixtures that provide drinking water across school campuses.

Water testing will be led by the environmental arm of the Indiana Finance Authority, which oversees state funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Thursday providing aid for a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana.

House Bill 1344 expands lead testing in the soil and water of the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. At the bill signing in East Chicago, Holcomb says nothing could be more important than getting the city back on track.

“From the street to your Statehouse to the White House, we are going to make sure East Chicago stays on track,” says Holcomb.

McCormick: ‘Concern’ 2 SBOE Seats Still Vacant

May 18, 2017

As two seats sit vacant on Indiana’s education policy-creating body, the state’s highest-ranking education official is concerned.

As Gary Community Schools prepares for a state-hired emergency manager to take control, the seat on the state education board that represents the district remains vacant.

The same goes for East Chicago Schools as it faces a lead contamination crisis in the community.

NPR file photo / NPR

EAST CHICAGO -  Just over 100 East Chicago kids will be getting a job this year in the city's 2017 Summer Youth Employment Program. 

Malcolm Jones, Multi Media Associate for the city of East Chicago, says the program is conducted every year and the number of kids employed in it varies. "We have youth that works in various departments such as public works, the parks department, and just so many other departments where young people are able to get experience that they can definitely use in the future such as experience they can use in college" Jones said.

Keesha Daniels just moved from one lead contaminated neighborhood to another.

Both her new house and her old West Calumet Housing Complex apartment sit within East Chicago’s USS Lead Superfund site. The city is tearing down her old home because of extremely high levels of lead in the soil. So she had to move.

Daniels is still unpacking. Most rooms have a pile of boxes stacked tidily in a corner. Two heavy dressers sit in one otherwise empty room — her sons are coming later to move them. As Daniels takes me on a tour of her new house, she offers me some water.

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