1,100 East Chicago Resident Forced to Leave Due To Lead And Arsenic Contamination

Governor Works For Trump While East Chicago Residents Look For A Place To Live

On Sept 1, 2016 the Mayor of East Chicago told the 1,100 residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex they need to find a new place to live, on account of he was going to bulldoze the neighborhood in 60 days. The cause of the emergency relocation is massive lead and arsenic contamination of the soil, air and surroundings.

The whole process was put in motion by a July 2016 letter from the EPA, advising residents that some yards showed lead levels up to 66 times the EPA limit for lead and 55 the limit for arsenic. According to EPA records, the worst contamination is 227 times the lead limit and 135 times the arsenic limit in some locations. Further testing showed elevated levels of lead and arsenic even inside houses.

Since the tests had been conducted at the end of 2014, one is tempted to ask: why the sudden interest?

The USS Smelter Superfund site was added to the EPS’s National Priorities List In 2009, which is a documentation of the most contaminated sites in the country. It should not come as a surprise that most of the children in the neighborhood exhibit a wide range of lead poisoning symptoms.

Location, location, location

While the emergency relocation shocked and surprised the residents, the poisoning of the ground they used to live on has been taking place for at least four decades.

The West Calumet affordable housing complex is within the US Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc. Superfund site, according to the EPA. It sits south of a former USS lead smelting planet, adjacent to a DuPont chemical facility and right on top of a property owned by Anaconda White Lead company. These plants spewed toxins for decades before they were abandoned. A reasonable person might ask why an affordable housing complex was built on a brownfield, but I think we know the answer. The people in Flint Michigan know too.

While there is plenty of fingerpointing going on, at least part of the problem is big cutbacks in the Indiana Department of Health’s budget, a recurring problem in Red States.

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