Industrial Company Deciding Factor In USS Lead Cleanup In East Chicago

Mar 26, 2020

Crews tear down part of the West Calumet Housing Complex on April 2, 2018. Several residents were told the area would be turned into housing again after the lead and arsenic cleanup.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

An industrial company will be the deciding factor in how well — and how fast — some East Chicago arsenic and lead contamination gets cleaned up. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan for the area where the West Calumet Public Housing Complex once stood in the USS Lead Superfund site. While many residents want the area to become housing again, the city intends to let a company called Industrial Development Advantage, LLC move in.

Doug Ballotti is the acting director of the EPA’s Superfund division. Though residents may have concerns, he says ultimately it’s the city’s decision because it owns the land.

READ MORE: Industrial Company Could Move To Site Of Former East Chicago Housing Complex

“We're really dependent upon the landowner to tell us what that future land use would be. We're not — we can't dictate to them what that would be,” he says.

Ballotti says workers can’t start to remove contaminated soil there until the company decides whether it will go through with its offer. If IDA does move in, less contaminated soil would be cleaned up than if the site was designated a residential area.

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Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.