The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized two settlement agreements this week that will allow for a less comprehensive cleanup than originally planned at the site of the former West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the action helps clear the way for a developer to build a 500,000-square-foot warehouse and logistics center on a portion of the former Superfund site.
The West Calumet Housing Complex was built in the early 1970s atop the former Anaconda lead factory site.
In summer 2016, the East Chicago Housing Authority ordered the evacuation of up to 1,200 residents after EPA discovered lead and arsenic contamination in the soil was far greater than expected.
EPA this week finalized a prospective purchaser agreement with Industrial Development Advantage LLC to develop a light industrial campus, including a warehouse.
The agreement will require IDA to remove lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil to a depth of 1 foot, dispose of it off-site and backfill and cover excavated areas. The site will be cleaned to a lead standard of 800 parts per million.
On two adjacent sites that are also part of the Superfund site, EPA remediated soils to a depth of at least 24 inches and a lead standard of 400 ppm.
The publication reports EPA also finalized an agreement with five companies, all of which owned or operated lead-processing facilities in East Chicago.
The companies agreed to provide $13.5 million in “financial assurance” to ensure sufficient funds to complete the cleanup by IDA and reimburse EPA $18 million for past cleanup costs in other areas of the Superfund site.
Cleanup work could begin next spring.