East Chicago Lead Contamination Crisis

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.