East Chicago Superfund Cleanup To Cost Nearly 4 Times More

Dec 15, 2017

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 agency says it will clean up this portion of the site in the same way. But, after it did more sampling, it found contamination is more severe than first believed.

Debbie Chizewer, an attorney with Northwestern University’s Environmental Advocacy Clinic, says this has been a problem before.

“When this investigation of the Superfund site started, they took some samples and got some very high results,” Chizewer says, “but then didn’t say, ‘Oh, we should check the next block.’”

Chizewer represents some residents in a lawsuit against the EPA. They want a larger say in the cleanup process. A federal judge will hear those arguments in January.

The revised estimate does not include cleanup costs for the now-abandoned West Calumet Housing Complex and Carrie Gosch Elementary School. The EPA report says it may have to change the proposed cleanup plan for that section.

The EPA will take public comments on the cleanup cost difference from Dec. 18 to Feb. 16, 2018. A public meeting will be held in January at Carrie Gosch.