East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

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

  

Lawmakers Propose Aid For East Chicago Lead Crisis

Jan 13, 2017

 

Northwest Indiana legislators have introduced four pieces of legislation to provide state aid for the lead contamination crisis in East Chicago, Indiana.

Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. says his bill’s first priority is resident safety.

“So it really works on how we help out the area in terms of excavation, removing contaminated soil, restoration, and also relocating residents in the area,” Harris says.

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.”

 

East Chicago’s lead crisis came up Thursday at Ben Carson’s confirmation hearing to lead the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson, the retired neurosurgeon from Detroit tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to lead HUD, was answering a question from U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Donnelly asked if Carson would continue HUD’s response to lead contamination in an East Chicago public housing complex.

 

Residents of a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana want a larger role in the clean up process and they’re taking an unusual step to get it.

Seven residents of the lead and arsenic–polluted 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. An attorney representing the residents, David Chizewer, says its an uncommon tactic but an important step.

Indiana University Northwest

Community activist and Indiana University Northwest labor studies Professor Emeritus Ruth Needleman was in the “Regionally Speaking” studio to talk about her interest in her community and its people.

East Chicago is one of three Lake County cities receiving an extra $5.6 million from the state to tear down abandoned houses – but the city won’t be able to use the funds to demolish a lead-contaminated public housing complex.

The money comes from the state’s Blight Elimination Program, which distributed millions in 2014 to help towns acquire and demolish vacant homes.

 

The City of East Chicago, Indiana, told residents the high lead levels recently measured in drinking water in the Calumet neighborhood are likely the result of the efforts to clean up lead in the soil in the same area.

East Chicago utilities director Greg Crowley told residents at a public meeting that is all the information he can release right now.

“They provided us some preliminary results, um, they wanted to validate their results, so we do not have final data,” Crowley says.

 

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland says a state of emergency should be declared in his city’s lead contaminated Calumet neighborhood.

Copeland met with a group of residents from the lead contaminated neighborhood Dec. 9 and announced he sent letters to Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb requesting the emergency declaration.

The neighborhood is a federally designated toxic clean-up site. Its soil is polluted with lead and arsenic left by former factories.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water of some homes in East Chicago, Indiana.

The city is already grappling with high levels of lead and arsenic found in the soil around homes inside its EPA toxic waste clean-up site, or Superfund.

That contamination came from a former smelting plant in the area. But an EPA spokesman says it’s “not possible for lead from contaminated soil to get into your tap water.”

 

Residents living next to a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana are now testing positive for lead. The results come after the city expanded blood testing services this summer.

So far, 21 residents of a housing complex outside the lead contaminated clean-up site have been tested for lead. Some have elevated blood lead levels. City officials couldn’t say how many.

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