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EPA Splits East Chicago Cleanup Plan Into Three Parts

Nick Janzen
Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward on plans to clean up a lead contaminated residential neighborhood in East Chicago.

The EPA has split the 3,000-person neighborhood in three, with a different plan for each part.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago sits on a Superfund site that’s divided into three zones – 1,2 and 3 – based on who’s asked to pay for the cleanup.

EPA Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan says the lead contaminated soil in Zone 3 will simply be removed -- dug out.

“That was the original plan and there’s no variation in it,” Kaplan says.

That plan was formed in 2012 after an agreement was finalized with Atlantic Richfield and DuPont to clean the area.

Kaplan says the plan to remedy Zone 2 is still being determined because it was not a part of that consent decree.

Zone 1 covers the West Calumet Housing Complex. It was going to be cleaned up like Zone 3, until East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland decided the complex needed to be demolished. Now, Kaplan says two things need to happen. Residents need to move out and the city has to determine what will be built where the complex once stood.

“We need to know what it is we’re building to," he says. " So, is it going to be commercial/industrial? Or is it going to be residential?”

Kaplan says the EPA will use a higher clean up standard—basically make the area safer—if the city wants to put in a residential development.

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