Lead Contamination

EPA Administrator Visits East Chicago, NAACP Demands More Help

Apr 19, 2017

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt made his first visit to a Superfund site Wednesday, meeting in East Chicago with lawmakers and residents affected by lead contamination.

Pruitt made a short statement outside a shuttered elementary school in the USS Lead Superfund, after a closed briefing with Gov. Eric Holcomb, state and federal lawmakers, and local officials.

“And the reason I’m here is because it’s important that we restore confidence for the people here in this community, that we’re gonna get it right going forward,” Pruitt says.

Steven Lattimore / Lakeshore Public Media

Residents from across the Midwest say they are banding together to fight for environmental justice.  They held an Anti-Trump march in downtown Chicago, on Tuesday, April 11th, to fight a proposed plan to defund the Environmental Protection Agency.  As Steven Lattimore reports, East Chicago advocacy groups were there to make their voices heard as they deal with the lead contamination crisis that has impacted residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex.

The Environmental Protection Agency and East Chicago’s mayor remain at a standstill over the future of a lead-contaminated public housing complex.

After Mayor Anthony Copeland doubled down on his insistence that the EPA clean West Calumet Housing Complex to a residential standard, the EPA has maintained it can’t move forward with cleanup until it gets more information from the city.

Dozens of families are still living in East Chicago’s lead-contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex, a week after the city had wanted everyone moved out.

In late March, the East Chicago Housing Authority assigned remaining West Calumet residents to temporary public housing units elsewhere in the city, as well as in Gary and Chicago.

In East Chicago the deadline for residents to move out of the lead contaminated West Calumet Housing Project is fast approaching. As Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore reports, some residents are still wondering where they are going to live and feel they are running out of options.

Remaining residents of a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago are gearing up for a fight about the city’s plans to relocate them.

Sixty-seven families still lived in West Calumet Housing Complex as of Wednesday. It’s less than a quarter of the original residents in the neighborhood, which sits in a federal Superfund site and is slated for demolition, pending federal approval.

EPA Gets First Cleanup Funds For Zone 2 Of East Chicago Superfund

Mar 21, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency will get more money from more sources to clean up some of the most contaminated homes in East Chicago, Indiana.

The agency’s new administrative settlement, announced Monday, adds a new company to those responsible for funding the cleanup.

The new company is the U.S. Metals Refining Company. It joins DuPont and its sister company, Chemours, plus BP subsidiary Atlantic Richfield, as the “Potentially Responsible Parties” funding cleanup in the EPA’s USS Lead Superfund site.

Around 80 families are still living in lead-contaminated public housing in East Chicago, Indiana. This week, they’ll receive details about where the city plans to relocate them after the March 31 deadline to move out.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Elena Gaona say 250 families have relocated from West Calumet Housing Complex since the lead crisis began last fall. Another 19 have housing lined up.

East Chicago Residents band together to deal wit lead crisis Edit | Remove

In East Chicago there are several groups that that have formed to help residents get the help they need dealing with the lead crisis. As Lakeshore Public Radio’s Steven Lattimore reports, residents are making progress but there is long way to go.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is extending his emergency declaration in East Chicago, Indiana another 30 days. The original order expired Saturday.

The extension comes on the heels of a report from the city to the governor’s office outlining additional resource needs to address the lead contamination crisis.

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland identified 15 projects totaling over 56 million dollars.

 

Lead contamination has been making headlines lately: in East Chicago, Indiana, or South Bend or Bloomington. Many towns across Indiana are grappling with lead contamination, and dozens have aging, lead-based water infrastructure.

But how does a town know if it has a lead problem?

David Konisky, a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University, says there’s not one single process.

In East Chicago, Indiana, federal officials have approved a plan to allow involuntary relocation of families who remain in lead-contaminated public housing beginning on April 1.

These would be considered “emergency transfers” to units that have been inspected for lead in East Chicago and, in Illinois, Cook County and Chicago. Families would stay in these units while they kept looking for permanent housing, still using the same rent vouchers and other HUD-provided counseling and resources.

Indiana To Investigate Lead In Public Schools' Water

Mar 1, 2017

The Indiana Finance Authority will offer free drinking water tests at all of the state’s public schools.

The program, which was launched last week, will allow interested school districts to apply to the authority for lead testing in water sources. Water sources may include drinking water fountains, ice machines, food-preparation sinks, and other fixtures that provide water for human consumption.

Wednesday, March 1, is the deadline for residents of a lead-contaminated East Chicago, Indiana, housing complex to renew their federal housing vouchers.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, gave out the Section 8 vouchers late last year to help residents find new homes.

As of this month, HUD says 106 families still live in West Calumet Housing Complex, and 91 of those have not yet found a new place to live – including Keesha Daniels and her sons.

 

A lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana could soon become a lead-contaminated vacant lot – and if local and federal officials can’t resolve a key dispute, it might stay that way for a long time.

That’s because the city and Environmental Protection Agency are at odds over redevelopment plans for the neighborhood.

Gov. Eric Holcomb made his first visit as governor to East Chicago Friday to meet with residents and community leaders in the lead-contaminated community.

IPB News

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Thursday issued a 30-day emergency declaration for the East Chicago Superfund Site -- the 322 acres of land that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proclaimed was contaminated by lead pollution.  The declaration comes after former Governor, now Vice President, Mike Pence denied a similar request before he left office.

The declaration is aimed at helping relocate nearly 100 people who live in the Calumet Neighborhood housing project and engaging agency leader in the new federal administration.

A bill to aid toxic cleanup efforts in the city of East Chicago, Indiana, passed unanimously out of a House committee on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago), who authored the bill, says the city will need long term assistance to combat its lead contamination crisis.

“There’s a lot of support that’s come on the national level, on the state level, and I want to make sure that this continues,” Harris says. “This is not a short term problem.”

The work to clean up the homes around the West Calumet Housing Complex continues in East Chicago. The EPA says there are things you can do protect your families from the high lead  levels. Steven Lattimore has the story 

City officials from East Chicago, Indiana, requested state aid from the General Assembly on Thursday to combat their lead contamination crisis.

Mayor Anthony Copeland says multiple state and federal agencies have denied additional requests for more money to cleanup the city’s Calumet neighborhood.

“This has been the only ray of hope that we see that we could come in contact with other additional funding to help alleviate a crisis,” Copeland says.

Before leaving office, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence denied an emergency declaration request from the city of East Chicago, Indiana. But East Chicago State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. is hopeful new Gov. Eric Holcomb will still consider one.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago has lead and arsenic contamination in its soil at 200 times the legal limit.

Harris says the request isn’t something the city asked for lightly.

“I didn’t know if there was a lack of understanding or what the situation was but really we need, needed, and still need more help,” Harris says.

The United Fresh Start Foundation will be donating the equipment to provide salad bar to the East Chicago School system. Experts say fruits and vegetables can help with the absorption of lead into the body. Steven Lattimore has the story

  

East Chicago Lawsuit

Jan 12, 2017

Seven residents of the lead and arsenic–polluted East Chicago, Indiana neighborhood want to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit against the companies paying for the cleanup. The residents argue neither party represents their interests, and they want more say. David Chizewer is one of their attorneys—he says its an uncommon tactic, but an important step.

“So that they can have a voice in any changes that need to be made to the clean up process, because, as it’s gone forward so far, it’s been inadequate.”

The discovery of elevated lead levels in  East Chicago has many residents looking ways to rid themselves or their families of lead contamination. Experts are warning residents about snake oil salesmen who are offering quick fix remedies that don’t work and can cost you money.

Community Conversation: West Calumet Lead Crisis

Sep 15, 2016

“Community Conversation: West Calumet Lead Crisis” brought the lead contamination crisis of the West Calumet Housing Complex to the airwaves of Lakeshore Public Radio. The 1-hour conversation explored further, the West Calumet Housing Complex and the issues with lead and arsenic contamination. Discussion followed on the history of the West Calumet Housing Complex, moving issues for residents, as well as the harmful effects of lead poisoning.

Joining host and moderator Tom Maloney were:

East Chicago, Indiana’s school district has received a $3 million state disaster relief loan to make an abandoned middle school suitable for elementary school students.

After dangerous levels of lead and arsenic were found next to Carrie Gosh Elementary School, district officials relocated the school’s 450 students to a former middle school that had been empty for one year.

“It was not in any way shape or form ready for school to be open in that building,” says Paige McNulty, School City of East Chicago Superintendent.

East Chicago School Disaster Relief

Sep 15, 2016

The city of East Chicago, Indiana is still in disaster relief mode after residents recently learned their soil contains poisonous levels of lead. State officials have loaned the school district 3 million dollars to support its response to the crisis.

East Chicago’s Carrie Gosch elementary school sits next to soil that contains staggering levels of lead. That’s a major health threat that can harm children’s brain development.

Governor Candidates on East Chicago Lead

Sep 12, 2016

Gubernatorial candidate John Gregg accuses the state government of not doing enough when it comes to East Chicago’s lead contamination crisis.

East Chicago is grappling with a lead contamination crisis in the city’s Calumet neighborhood. Some local residents were disappointed the issue was not addressed at a meeting of the city’s governing body Thursday.

The US Environmental Protection Agency briefed East Chicago’s Common Council on the lead contamination in a private meeting two weeks ago. Some residents hoped to hear those details this week, in the counsel’s regularly scheduled public meeting, including Darie Gibbs –

School Lead Protocol

Sep 6, 2016

An East Chicago elementary school next to a lead contamination site has relocated to a former middle school across the city. It’s a safety measure school officials say they feel is necessary. Schools don’t currently have a set protocol for handling a lead contamination crisis.

Indiana is a member of the National Association of State Boards of Education. That group says they can no longer look at lead in schools as isolated incidents.

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