Demolition began Monday afternoon on East Chicago’s West Calumet Housing Complex, but the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site still leaves former residents concerned for their future.
An excavator slowly tore down a duplex at the corner of Magnolia Lave and Aster Avenue as water canons sprayed onto and surrounding the building to prevent any contamination.
John Blosky watches the project finally kicking off. He’s owner of the engineering company doing the work, Amereco.
“It feels really good. We’ve been working on it for quite a long time now. A lot of governmental red tape with HUD-funded projects, so to get to this point is a major milestone,” Blosky says.
The demolition was delayed a couple of weeks to ensure extra safety measures were in place before demolition started.
“There are so many precautions that we want to put into place to protect the human health and the environment which is what it’s about,” says Blosky.
A major part of his team’s work will be monitoring the air to make sure no lead or arsenic contamination spreads to the surrounding neighborhood.
“The monitoring works off of particulates, pm10 is primarily what we’re looking for. As well as, we’re collecting samples for lead and arsenic to check the airborne concentration,” says Blosky.
He says his group will be providing updates to residents throughout the demolition process.
“This is an environmental issue, it’s important that people have trust in us that we’re going to do our job correctly too,” states Blosky.
Former West Calumet resident Akeeshea Daniels watched the demolition from outside the fenced in complex.
“I can’t even express how I feel. I’m really sad, I don’t want to cry, but I’m sad because I know it has to happen but I don’t think it was going to be happening this soon,” says Daniels.
Daniels has spent her entire life in the Superfund site. She relocated last April on the opposite side of contaminated zone. She says she still has trouble trusting everything is being done in the safest manner for those still living close to the housing complex.
“To me I don’t think anything they would be do would be satisfying to me on either end,” says Daniels. “But I know that it has to be done and, you know, you just have to believe they’re doing everything possible to keep us all safe.”
Blosky says demolition is expected to be complete in August.