How The EPA Is Tackling Lead Contamination In East Chicago

Aug 26, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to address lead contamination in East Chicago, Indiana, which used to be home to a lead smelting company called Anaconda Lead Products.

That means there are remnants of lead left in the soil, so the EPA is moving 1,200 residents out of the West Calumet Housing Complex. Carrie Gosch Elementary school has also been closed after soil testing in May showed high levels of lead.

Here’s a breakdown of what that means for those living in the public housing complex--and those living around it.

What is the agency doing right now to address the problem?  

The EPA has moved the residents to a nearby hotel while they clean the inside of the housing complex, and dig to remove lead from the soil. Kids who lived in the West Calumet Housing Complex are also getting free rides to school.

How do those residents of the housing complex feel about this?

Most residents support closing the elementary school to protect kids, but some elderly residents feel like they’re being pushed out of their homes. They say they have limited resources and don’t know where they would go if they were to move.

Is the area near the public housing complex safe for homeowners?

The EPA says soil testing in nearby areas shows lead levels that are not as high as on the land of the public housing complex. The agency is also conducting remediation on the soil in the neighborhood, which includes digging to remove lead.

That remediation is part of an agreement reached two years ago between the EPA, the state of Indiana and two companies responsible for the cleanup of the Superfund site: BP and DuPont.

Will this contaminated land ever be safe again?

The EPA says once remediation is complete, the land will be safe to occupy.