East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

Did May Flooding Recontaminate Homes In East Chicago?

Aug 6, 2020
Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Residents in the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago are worried that flooding in May could have recontaminated their homes with arsenic and lead. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is ready to call the soil at several properties clean. 

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — East Chicago's mayor is urging state officials to advocate for a more protective cleanup of a lead- and arsenic-contaminated former housing complex in the northwestern Indiana city.

Mayor Anthony Copeland sent letters last month to Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management asking them to weigh in on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to remove tainted soil from the site.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to excavate soil tainted with lead and arsenic from around more than 160 homes in East Chicago, in a push the agency says could complete exterior residential cleanups this year in the northwest Indiana city.

The EPA intends to remove polluted soil from about 167 properties in East Chicago's Calumet neighborhood, which is part of the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s residential soil clean up at East Chicago’s Superfund site may wrap up this year. This is the end of one of many phases in the federal agency’s cleanup plan.

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland seems to have changed his mind about what should be done with the area where the former West Calumet Public Housing Complex once stood. But it’s unclear if that will change the Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup plans for the site. 

East Chicago residents are still nervous about lead and arsenic contamination. Two years after government agencies started a large-scale cleanup that’s not yet finished, residents question the use of an elementary school building in the Superfund site.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the building is safe, but not everyone trusts the EPA. 

East Chicago residents are getting another chance to voice their concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup at part of the USS Lead Superfund site. 

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The federal government shutdown has forced the cancellation of a public hearing on a cleanup proposal for the site of a former housing complex in northwestern Indiana.

The Times reports Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency says the Jan. 10 hearing on the West Calumet Housing Complex site won't be held.

Public comments on the EPA's cleanup plans were being accepted until Jan. 14. Those plans include a 2-foot-deep removal of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil. The agency estimates the cleanup will cost about $26 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency has cancelled a public hearing on a cleanup plan at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago due to the government shutdown. The meeting was set for Thursday Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the former Carrie Gosch School.

UPDATE: East Chicago residents have gotten their wish for another public meeting to discuss cleanup plans at Zone 1 of the USS Lead Superfund site.

The mayor of East Chicago and its residents have different ideas about what to do with part of the USS Lead Superfund site once it's cleaned up. And how it’ll be used might determine how much lead and arsenic contamination gets removed. 

EPA To Monitor East Chicago Groundwater At USS Lead

Nov 28, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency is making progress on a long-awaited groundwater investigation at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. The EPA recently announced it will oversee the installation of 10 more groundwater monitoring wells and give the community quarterly updates on what the agency finds. 

Environmental Protection Agency representatives spoke with East Chicago residents about tentative cleanup plans for the former public housing complex in the Superfund site.

EPA plans soil removal at lead-tainted Indiana complex

Nov 12, 2018

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving ahead with plans for a 2-foot-deep removal of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil at the site of a northwestern Indiana public housing that's been evacuated and demolished over health concerns.

EPA cites factory for toxic lead in Indiana

Nov 9, 2018

WHITING, Ind. (AP) — Federal and state environmental officials say a northwestern Indiana factory has repeatedly violated federal health standards by releasing alarmingly high concentrations of airborne lead in two cities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management accused Whiting Metals of the violations Thursday, based on three months of air quality testing in Hammond and Whiting.

EPA turns to judge for lead-testing at 9 NW Indiana homes

Oct 29, 2018

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking access to nine properties within a Superfund site in northwestern Indiana that have never been tested for lead or arsenic contamination.

The EPA says in court filings that the East Chicago properties may be tainted with lead or arsenic at levels that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. The agency says it hasn't been able to get permission from property owners to test the soil.

A new study shows the historical blood lead levels of children in East Chicago’s Superfund site remained higher than those in the rest of the city.

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.

(FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik/IPB News)
(FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik/IPB News)

Federal Judge Philip Simon has denied East Chicago residents’ request to intervene in court proceedings concerning lead contamination in the Calumet neighborhood, formerly home to a public housing complex and an elementary school.

Simon’s ruling agrees with a prior magistrate judge’s opinion saying the request was made too late in the process.

Federal Judge Philip Simon has denied East Chicago residents’ request to intervene in court proceedings concerning lead contamination in the Calumet neighborhood, formerly home to a public housing complex and an elementary school.

Simon’s ruling agrees with a prior magistrate judge’s opinion saying the request was made too late in the process.

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.

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.”

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 NAACP will teach East Chicago, Indiana residents how to use lead testing kits this week. The training comes as residents continue to cope with lead contaminated soil and water.

The Calumet neighborhood in East Chicago is part of a federal toxic waste cleanup site contaminated with lead and arsenic. The neighborhood is also having a problem with lead leaching out of drinking water service lines.

Fewer than half of Indiana’s public school districts are participating in a free lead testing program, according to Jim McGoff, environmental programs director at the Indiana Finance Authority.

The IFA created the voluntary program after lead contamination in places such as Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana, rose to national prominence.

Jim McGoff told a legislative study committee he has confidence the water supply itself is lead-free because of tests water utilities are required to perform.

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the East Chicago Housing Authority $4 million Thursday to tear down a lead contaminated public housing complex.

The West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana is the most contaminated section of a federal toxic waste cleanup site. Last spring, the city forced about a thousand residents to move out of the complex, a process that took nearly a year.

Lake County and East Chicago could have new affordable housing by 2020 as part of a state tax credit program called Moving Forward.

It’s how officials plan to fulfill their promise to help East Chicago residents displaced by lead contamination.

Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority executive director Jake Sipe says Moving Forward tries to rethink affordable housing as about more than just a number of units.

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.”

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