East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

Governor Signs Bill Expanding Lead Testing In East Chicago

Apr 20, 2017

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation Thursday designating parts of East Chicago, Indiana, as “areas of special concern.”

The bill indefinitely extends parts of Holcomb’s emergency declaration to expand lead testing in the city’s soil and water.

Environmental Activists take a wait and see approach to promises of help from the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made a visit to East Chicago this week, as Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore reports...

NAACP Demands Larger East Chicago Response Ahead Of Pruitt Visit

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.

Environmental Protection Agency representatives fielded questions over the weekend about clean-up of a lead-contaminated Superfund site in East Chicago, Indiana.

Most of the questions centered around identifying contractors, the timeline of work, and details of what remediation entails. On March 21, the EPA announced a new settlement to pay for clean-up efforts in Zones 2 and 3 of the Superfund.

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.

 

March 31 was supposed to be the deadline for families in a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana to move out, or be sent to temporary housing. But some are still appealing those assignments – and they won’t be forced out until their complaints are settled.

Hearings for residents who filed grievances about their temporary housing assignments will be held Monday April 3 and Tuesday April 4.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this story was published, federal officials have said that West Calumet families with nowhere else to go will now have until Monday, April 3, to appeal their temporary housing assignments before they’re forced to move. This story has been updated to reflect this change, and we’ll keep following the situation as it develops. 

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.

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.

Lawyers Request EPA Intervention For Lead In East Chicago Water

Mar 2, 2017

A group of lawyers is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to issue an emergency order about lead contamination in drinking water in East Chicago, Indiana.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, worked with residents and their lawyers to file the petition for emergency action with the EPA .

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.

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.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb will visit East Chicago on Friday to discuss his disaster declaration for the city’s ongoing lead contamination crisis.

Meanwhile, lawyers for residents being displaced by the contamination say the order doesn’t properly address the biggest concerns.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is declaring a disaster in a lead-contaminated neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. The order, announced Thursday, fulfills a request that former Gov. Mike Pence denied before he left office.

In the declaration, Holcomb says he’ll ask for federal assistance to relocate residents still living in the affected area. And those families say they need all the assistance they can get.

The 30-day emergency declaration spans the city’s 322-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which includes the Calumet neighborhood and around 3,000 residents.

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.

East Chicago, Indiana, city leaders have two different lead problems – lead in the soil of its Calumet neighborhood and lead in water pipes leading to some homes. They don’t know how many yet.

Now, officials are grappling to measure the extent of that lead in water pipes leading into homes. So, when they came to testify on a bill at the Statehouse that would help them cleanup the soil, they also talked about the water.

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 

 

East Chicago, Indiana, officials are worried about the future of lead contamination clean up in the city because of actions taken by the Trump Administration Tuesday.

The uncertainty comes after the administration temporarily suspended grants and contracts overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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

  

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