EPA begins review of USS Lead Superfund site cleanup

February 16, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun a review of the first five years of cleanup efforts at an East Chicago Superfund site contaminated with lead and other toxic chemicals.

Cleanup at the USS Lead Superfund site in the Calumet portion of East Chicago began in 2016.

The site was the former location of several lead smelters and refineries in the 20th century. Over the decades, residential communities and schools were built on contaminated land on or near the old lead facilities.

State and federal officials suspected widespread contamination for decades, but only added the site to the National Priorities List, a list of the most contaminated sites in the U.S., after the EPA found lead contamination in homes in 2008.

The EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management decided on a cleanup plan in 2012, but work to clean up the populated parts of the site did not begin until 2016, when children living at the West Calumet Housing Complex were found to have elevated blood lead levels.

Parts of the site were remediated enough to allow use by industry, and were subsequently removed from the NPL, but hundreds of homes remain part of the Superfund site.

The report, expected to be completed in October, will evaluate whether the cleanup “continues to be protective of public health and the environment,” but will not include the former site of the West Calumet Housing Complex. The EPA said the omission is due to pending cleanup at the site.

EPA begins review of USS Lead Superfund site cleanup