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East Chicago Residents Want To Sue Mayor And Big Business

Joe Gratz

Residents of East Chicago's West Calumet Housing Complex are suing local officials as well as the private companies charged with cleaning up the neighborhood's lead-laden soil. 

The suit was filed on behalf of 13 residents against the City of East Chicago and Mayor Anthony Copeland; the East Chicago Housing Authority and its director, Tia Cauley.

In June, Mayor Copeland ordered the demolition of the West Calumet Housing Complex because of lead contamination. Lead levels have been measured in excess of 100 times what’s considered safe.

The mayor tasked the East Chicago Housing Authority with relocating those residents. $3 million in federal funds have been pledged to residents to find new homes.

But many residents say they’re having trouble finding new housing.

And the lawsuit claims city officials should have warned residents about the contamination sooner.

It asks the U.S. District Court in Hammond to enjoin the city's relocation plan— which would prevent the city from forcing residents to relocate.

British Petroleum, DuPont, and Atlantic Richfield are also named in the lawsuit. These are the companies the Environmental Protection Agency says polluted the housing complex and must help to remediate the site. 

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