East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

Indiana Democratic Party website

Today:  State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the issues coming up in the 2021 General Assembly session -- a session that is not only a biennial budget-writing session but one marked by revenue concerns due to COVID-19.  Tammi Davis with the Gary Sanitary District is also a member of an Indiana advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  She tells us about an in-depth report on environmental injustice dealing with lead poisoning in Indiana -- a topic of great interest in northwest Indiana. And we have another edition of "Neighborhood Voice" minority business owner conversations from the Legacy Foundation, as Erica Fizer talks to a Hammond cafe owner.

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.

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.

Indiana Youth Institute

Today:   Tami Silverman, the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, joins us with a look at the statewide and northwest Indiana data that's contained in this 25th anniversary IYI "Kids Count" Data Book.  The Data Book shows its readers objective, reliable information on the status of Indiana's children and youth.  It offers indicators in the categories of family and community, economic well-being, education and health.  We also have more conversations from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.  And IPB News' Rebecca Thiele reports on the reuse of the former Carrie Gosch E

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, 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.