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EPA Residential Soil Clean Up At East Chicago Superfund May Wrap Up This Year

EPA remedial project manager Katherine Thomas talks with a Superfund resident about the groundwater investigation.

EPA remedial project manager Katherine Thomas talks with a Superfund resident about the groundwater investigation. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The Environmental Protection Agency’s residential soil clean up at East Chicago’s Superfund site may wrap up this year. This is the end of one of many phases in the federal agency’s cleanup plan.

EPA soil remediation began in 2016. It’s cleaned up nearly 600 residential properties. There are 170 additional properties slated for cleanup. That number could grow to more than 200, as remaining yards are tested. Remedial project manager Sarah Rolfes says the Superfund program includes a follow-up.

“All of our sites go into a five-year review program," Rolfes says. "Every five years, we review the remediation – the clean up – that was done and make sure that it’s still protective.”

Looking ahead, the agency is still working with the city to determine the remediation standard for the former West Calumet Housing Complex location.

And the EPA is in the early stages of a groundwater study. Katherine Thomas, EPA remedial project manager, says they installed wells to periodically monitor heavy metals in groundwater, like lead and arsenic.

“We usually want to look at multiple sets at a time, so we can see if there’s any trends that are observing. When you look at just a snapshot, it doesn’t give you the whole picture.”

The EPA also monitors basement seepage at some residential properties. It will collect a few years of data before it determines if the groundwater needs to be cleaned up.

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