East Chicago Residents Continue Legal Fight For Lead Clean Up

Jun 21, 2017

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.”

Those parties include the state and federal governments and the companies paying for the clean up, DuPont and Atlantic Richfield.

But the East Chicago residents object to the ruling. And attorney Debbie Chizewer — who, along with a team of lawyers, represents the residents pro bono — says a lot has happened in the last two years.

For example, Chizewer says, “The residents only learned the extent of the contamination and the way that their interests were not represented by EPA in the last year.”

The Department of Justice this month filed a motion once again opposing the residents’ intervention.

It argues, “No activity has occurred in this matter since it was closed and there was — and is — nothing to intervene in.”

Chizewer and the residents are asking a federal district court judge to grant their request. It’s unknown when or if that will happen.