Settlement Reached Over East Chicago CleanupPosted: Updated:
The United States and the state of Indiana have reached a proposed $26 million settlement with two companies concerning the cleanup of an East Chicago neighborhood. Under terms of the agreement, Atlantic Richfield Co. and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co. will fund efforts to remove lead and arsenic contamination.
September 3, 2014
Washington - Under a proposed settlement reached with the United States and the state of Indiana, the Atlantic Richfield Company and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont) will pay for an estimated $26 million cleanup of lead and arsenic contamination in parts of a residential neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana, announced the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The yards in this neighborhood are contaminated with lead and arsenic through industrial operations that took place from at least the early 1900s through 1985. During that time, lead smelting and refining as well as other manufacturing processes that used lead and arsenic were located on and near the area that came to be known as the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago. The cleanup will involve digging up contaminated soil, hauling it away for disposal, and restoring the yards with clean soil.
Under the settlement, EPA itself will do the work in the neighborhood. EPA will identify the yards that need to be remediated, will work with property owners to develop property specific drawings showing which soils on each property must be excavated, will do the excavation, and will restore the properties after excavation is complete. Atlantic Richfield and DuPont will pay for EPA's work and will also be responsible for transporting the contaminated soil out of the neighborhood and properly disposing of it.
To manage the cleanup, EPA and the state divided the Calumet neighborhood into three zones. Today's settlement covers two of them: a neighborhood that includes the Carrie Gosch Elementary School and residences operated by the East Chicago Housing Authority and a neighborhood located between the Elgin & Joliet Railway Line on the west and Parrish Avenue on the east. Cleanup of the third area of the Calumet neighborhood is the subject of further discussions.
"Under this settlement, Atlantic Richfield and DuPont will fund the first phase of cleaning up historical lead and arsenic contamination in residential properties in part of East Chicago," said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This marks the start, not the end, of cleaning up the contamination that has burdened this community for far too long."
"This settlement ensures that almost 300 residential properties, parks and public spaces in East Chicago will be cleaned up – and that the companies responsible for contaminating those sites will pay 100 percent of the costs for this phase of the cleanup," said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman.
"My office previously has worked through the federal courts in other cases to improve the quality of life for citizens of East Chicago," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office represented the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. "Under this appropriate cooperative effort between the state of Indiana and federal EPA, and with the commitments of the settling corporations, East Chicago residents will see progress made toward removing a health hazard and producing long-term benefit for their community."
"This is great news for the citizens whose homes have been impacted," said Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Commissioner Thomas Easterly. "Everyone wins when responsible parties come together and agree to do what is best for the community."
The Calumet neighborhood is part of an EPA Superfund site known as the USS Lead Site. EPA previously investigated the contamination in this neighborhood and issued a decision calling for its cleanup.
In a complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement, the United States and the state allege that Atlantic Richfield and DuPont are liable under the Superfund law for the cleanup because they or their predecessors either are owners or were owners/operators of plants that released lead and arsenic into the environment.
The terms of the settlement are included in a proposed consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court in Hammond, Indiana. The consent decree is subject to a 30 day public comment period and court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
Source: Office of Attorney General Greg Zoeller