East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson says officials will work to help displaced families from a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago.

Carson met privately Monday with some residents and local lawmakers near the now-empty West Calumet Housing Complex. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland joined the discussion.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will sit down with state lawmakers at East Chicago’s lead-contaminated public housing complex Monday.

The visit comes five months after three Indiana congressmen invited Carson to the USS Lead Superfund site, which is contaminated with high levels of lead and arsenic from old factories.

Indiana stands to lose out if Congress approves proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, says environmentalists, scientists, EPA staffers, and Indiana residents.

The cuts could affect drinking water infrastructure, burden the state’s environmental regulatory agency, and hinder efforts to clean up industrial toxic waste sites.

Blood, Lead & Soil: A Year In East Chicago

Jul 26, 2017

One year ago, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland told residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex they had to move out because of lead and arsenic contamination.

The announcement sparked a year of frantic action from residents, public officials, activists, and lawyers that’s still ongoing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving forward with a plan to demolish East Chicago’s lead-contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex.

Residents had many questions and received few answers at a tense public meeting about the environmental review of the plan Monday night.

The city of East Chicago finished relocating more than 1,000 housing complex residents this spring. Officials plan to demolish the complex’s buildings later this year.

HUD must first sign off.

Federal housing officials will hold a public hearing Monday night on plans to tear down a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago. The demolition plan got federal environmental approval last month, but residents want a chance to raise concerns.

Residents from the West Calumet Housing Complex area wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development this month. They asked for a public hearing and more time to comment on the demolition plan.

The federal government continues to oppose intervention by a group of East Chicago, Indiana, residents, who are asking a U.S. District Court to give them a larger role in the clean up of their lead and arsenic contaminated neighborhood.

The East Chicago residents were first turned down in May by Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry.

He ruled, “This case was closed over two years ago. To allow [the residents] to intervene now…would be highly prejudicial to the parties, who have already negotiated, settled, and obtained judgement in this case.”

Indiana To Begin Testing For Lead In Public School Water

May 30, 2017

State officials plan to investigate the drinking water of over 700 Indiana public schools for lead contamination this summer. Officials will travel the state to collect samples from drinking fountains, kitchen sinks and other fixtures that provide drinking water across school campuses.

Water testing will be led by the environmental arm of the Indiana Finance Authority, which oversees state funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Thursday providing aid for a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana.

House Bill 1344 expands lead testing in the soil and water of the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. At the bill signing in East Chicago, Holcomb says nothing could be more important than getting the city back on track.

“From the street to your Statehouse to the White House, we are going to make sure East Chicago stays on track,” says Holcomb.

McCormick: ‘Concern’ 2 SBOE Seats Still Vacant

May 18, 2017

As two seats sit vacant on Indiana’s education policy-creating body, the state’s highest-ranking education official is concerned.

As Gary Community Schools prepares for a state-hired emergency manager to take control, the seat on the state education board that represents the district remains vacant.

The same goes for East Chicago Schools as it faces a lead contamination crisis in the community.

As places such as East Chicago, Indiana, grapple with lead contamination, they face a challenge for after cleanup: how to redevelop and revitalize once-toxic neighborhoods.

In Evansville, community leaders have used decades of remediation to their advantage.

In what was once the most-contaminated part of the city’s Jacobsville Neighborhood Superfund site, a vacant lot sits waiting.

“So as we’re standing here right now, we’re standing where Garfield Commons will be,” says Chris Metz, assistant director of Evansville’s ECHO Housing Corporation.

Keesha Daniels just moved from one lead contaminated neighborhood to another.

Both her new house and her old West Calumet Housing Complex apartment sit within East Chicago’s USS Lead Superfund site. The city is tearing down her old home because of extremely high levels of lead in the soil. So she had to move.

Daniels is still unpacking. Most rooms have a pile of boxes stacked tidily in a corner. Two heavy dressers sit in one otherwise empty room — her sons are coming later to move them. As Daniels takes me on a tour of her new house, she offers me some water.

Eight Of Ten School Referenda Pass Tuesday

May 3, 2017

Eight of ten school referenda passed Tuesday – an effort for districts to ask voters through a ballot referenda process to raise property taxes to help fund their schools. Basically, the ballot question asks voters to pay more in property taxes so the schools have more funding.

This weekend 200,000 people converged on Washington DC to make a statement about the   environment, jobs and justice. There were roughly 50 Northwest Indiana residents who were there to advocate for keeping Environmental Protection Agency funding intact among other things.  Steven Lattimore was there...

 

Thousands turned out this weekend for the People's Climate Rally in Washington D.C. Among them were a bus-load of residents from East Chicago. Residents there are very concerned about the climate and the environment because they are dealing  with the effects of lead poisoning in the air, ground and water. Steven Lattimore has the story.

Help for East Chicago is pouring into the area by the truck load. The Rotarians have just delivered the largest bottled water donation to date over 40 thousand bottles of water. Steven Lattimore has the story

 

Another day, another water drive in East Chicago. The crisis is moving people from all over Northwest Indiana to come to the aid of residents in the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago. Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore has the story.
 

Annie Ropeik, IPBS

U. S. Senator Joe Donnelly gave Lakeshore Public Radio an update on several big issues here in northwest Indiana, the Hoosier State and on Capitol Hill in a Wednesday-morning conversation that airs today on "Regionally Speaking."

Donnelly began his comments with his latest efforts to get the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to tour East Chicago's lead-tainted neighborhoods.

Resident's in the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago  deal with life using water filters and bottled water. Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore talks to residents to see what life is like now in this new normal...

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...

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.

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.

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