Superfund site

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.

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.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this story was published, federal officials have said that West Calumet families with nowhere else to go will now have until Monday, April 3, to appeal their temporary housing assignments before they’re forced to move. This story has been updated to reflect this change, and we’ll keep following the situation as it develops. 

The Environmental Protection Agency will get more money from more sources to clean up some of the most contaminated homes in East Chicago, Indiana.

The agency’s new administrative settlement, announced Monday, adds a new company to those responsible for funding the cleanup.

The new company is the U.S. Metals Refining Company. It joins DuPont and its sister company, Chemours, plus BP subsidiary Atlantic Richfield, as the “Potentially Responsible Parties” funding cleanup in the EPA’s USS Lead Superfund site.

 

Lead contamination has been making headlines lately: in East Chicago, Indiana, or South Bend or Bloomington. Many towns across Indiana are grappling with lead contamination, and dozens have aging, lead-based water infrastructure.

But how does a town know if it has a lead problem?

David Konisky, a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University, says there’s not one single process.

 

A lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana could soon become a lead-contaminated vacant lot – and if local and federal officials can’t resolve a key dispute, it might stay that way for a long time.

That’s because the city and Environmental Protection Agency are at odds over redevelopment plans for the neighborhood.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water of some homes in East Chicago, Indiana.

The city is already grappling with high levels of lead and arsenic found in the soil around homes inside its EPA toxic waste clean-up site, or Superfund.

That contamination came from a former smelting plant in the area. But an EPA spokesman says it’s “not possible for lead from contaminated soil to get into your tap water.”

Plans are being made for the reuse of the Tippecanoe County Landfill. The site closed down nearly 25 years ago, and clean-up work has removed the threat to people and the environment. However, the property is still a Superfund site, because contaminants remain in the landfill.

County Commissioner John Knochel says they are talking with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about opening up the site for public use.