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East Chicago Superfund Site On List For Accelerated Cleanup

Some 1,000 residents of the West Calumet housing complex will have to relocate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will accelerate cleanup of 21 toxic waste sites across the country, including a lead- and arsenic-contaminated site in East Chicago, Indiana.

The EPA wants to expedite soil cleanup and finalize a plan for what to do with a now-abandoned public housing complex after it’s demolished at the USS Lead site in the northwest Indiana city.

Attorney David Chizewer says it’s not immediately clear if that’s helpful.

“We wouldn’t want to delay any cleanup that would be helpful for residents,” he says. “But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of say that the residents can have.”

Chizewer represents residents suing the EPA for a larger say in the cleanup process, which could result in a change to the cleanup plans.

In a statement about the priority list, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said, “By elevating these sites we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency’s mission.”

Over the weekend the New York Times published an investigation which found the EPA under Pruitt brought fewer cases against polluters than either of his counterparts in the Obama or Bush administrations during their first year.

A Superfund task force will develop more detailed plans for the sites on the list. The agency intends the list to be dynamic, with sites moving off and on as needed.

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