Government Refuses to Publicize 10 Year Lead Contamination in Chicago/Indiana Areas | Take Caution - R.City Unlimited

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Government Refuses to Publicize 10 Year Lead Contamination in Chicago/Indiana Areas | Take Caution


CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Vice President Mike Pence at a ceremony in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. When Pence was still Indiana’s governor, he denied East Chicago’s request for additional aid.
Last December, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland wrote a letter pleading with then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to grant his city, which is facing a lead contamination crisis, an emergency declaration to allow it to address the problem.
Pence said no, suggesting the $200,000 in assistance the state had already offered to help the city relocate affected families and administer free lead testing would suffice.
Pence’s successor, fellow Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, disagreed. Last week, in one of his first executive orders in office, he issued a declaration of disaster emergency that paved the way for additional state and potentially federal assistance for the struggling city and tasked Copeland with providing a written assessment of what resources the city will need to help its residents by March 5.
Deborah Chizewer, a law fellow at Northwestern University’s Environmental Advocacy Clinic who has been assisting East Chicago residents affected by the toxic, lead-contaminated soil, said Holcomb’s action was a welcome change from Pence’s response to the crisis.
“I was obviously very disappointed that Pence didn’t give this situation the requisite level of attention,” Chizewer told The Huffington Post. “I don’t think the state has done enough, but I was very pleased to see that Holcomb recognized the urgency in East Chicago that remains.”
The situation in East Chicago dates back at least to 1972, when the West Calumet housing complex was built on the site of a former lead refinery.
Concerns about lead in the soil in the area began around 1991, when the state first began testing East Chicago children for lead exposure. It wasn’t until 2009 that a 322-acre area, including the complex, was declared a Superfund site. Testing of the area’s soil first confirmed to residents last year that it was contaminated with both lead and arsenic.
A city spokesman did not respond to a request for information concerning the city’s action plan on lead. An Indiana Department of Environmental Management pointed only to the text of last week’s emergency declaration in response to a request for additional comment. 
For her part, Chizewer hopes the state may move to provide water filters to residents to help them reduce their exposure to lead, a problem she admits will not be an easy or cheap fix. Read more HERE.

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