The mayor of East Chicago, Indiana ordered eviction notices to more than 1,100 residents at West Calumet Housing Complex when he learned the soil was contaminated with lead. The site of the homes are surrounded by Superfund sites, where previous industrial uses caused environmental hazards.
The development is scheduled to be destroyed, but residents don't want to leave and they don't want their homes desecrated. They want the EPA and HUD to clean the toxic land, under a process that was in place since 2012.
Only 29 families out of 332 have moved so far, and a Nov. 30 deadline is edging closer each day.
The EPA has been removing lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil since 2006 at the complex, built in 1972 on the footprint of a former lead smelter, and two adjacent neighborhoods that include a total of about 1,000 homes and an elementary school that was closed this summer. It declared the 79-acre area, which once included a second lead smelter, a Superfund site in 2009.
As for allowing residents to live at the complex during the cleanup, Bob Kaplan, Chicago-based acting EPA regional administrator, pointed to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2011 that found breathing, drinking tap water, and playing in soil in the area weren’t expected to harm people’s health.