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EPA Looks At Cleanup Alternatives For Lead-Contaminated Indiana Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a feasibility study to find alternatives for cleaning up a lead-contaminated northwest Indiana public housing complex once it’s demolished. The agency will go back into negotiations with the potentially responsible parties that will fund the cleanup of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago with new plans, the Post-Tribune reported. The agency is looking into cleanup alternatives that could include capping the site, digging or using native sand.

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West Calumet Housing Complex

The West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana, on Feb. 23, 2017. The public housing complex is being closed because of lead contamination in the soil around the homes.

Andrew Gill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a feasibility study to find alternatives for cleaning up a lead-contaminated northwest Indiana public housing complex once it’s demolished.

The agency will go back into negotiations with the potentially responsible parties that will fund the cleanup of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago with new plans, the Post-Tribune reported. The agency is looking into cleanup alternatives that could include capping the site, digging or using native sand.

A 2014 consent decree says the agency originally planned to just dig out the contaminated soil without displacing residents or demolishing buildings.

But East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland announced last year that he planned to have the complex torn down, forcing the EPA to revisit the cleanup plan.

Residents hope revisiting the cleanup plans will give them a chance to provide more input on what’s happening at the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site.

A group of residents and advocacy organized attempted to get intervener status last year in the case between the companies held responsible for the contamination and the EPA and Department of Justice.

Federal Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry said residents were given notice of the EPA’s plans and already had opportunity to comment. The residents and advocacy groups are appealing the ruling.

The agency’s main concern with the motion to intervene is that it was too far into the remediation process, said Catherine Garypie, associate region counsel for EPA Region 5.

“The big concern is we don’t want to slow down cleanup,” Garypie said.

The agency will release the updated plans once they’re created and collect public feedback, said Tom Alcamo, a remedial project manager with the EPA.

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