EPA proposes adding former Hammond lead smelter to list of nation’s most polluted sites

March 28, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing adding a former lead smelting site in Hammond to a list of the nation’s most polluted locations, a major step in beginning the cleanup of the site.

The 36-acre Federated Metals Corp. site was used to smelt, refine, recover and recycle lead between 1937 and 1983. Part of the site was purchased by other companies, which continued to use it for smelting operations until 2020.

The 36-acre former Federated Metals Corp. site has been proposed for addition to the National Priorities List.

Federated Metals Corp. parent company American Smelting and Refining Co. LLC entered into an agreement with the EPA to clean up the site in 2001, including addressing contamination that had entered neighboring Lake George. American Smelting went bankrupt in 2005, and the cleanup was not finished.

Whiting Metals LLC, the owner of about 9 acres of the site, applied to enter the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Voluntary Remediation Program in 2011 to address surface soil contaminated with lead and other heavy metals.

In 2014, IDEM decided the company had cleaned up the site enough to earn a certificate of completion. Gov. Mike Pence awarded the company a Covenant Not to Sue, which protects the company from state lawsuits based on the release or threatened release of the contaminants listed in the approved VRP work plan.

The site was transferred to the EPA’s Superfund Removal Program in 2016, and in 2017 the EPA tested neighborhoods around the site and found high lead levels in the yard of 163 homes. The EPA and City of Hammond began remediating homes in 2021 with $5 million in American Rescue Plan funds.

Besides the former Federated Metals Corp. site, contaminated sites in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Muskogee, Oklahoma and in Navajo Nation, Arizona were also proposed for addition to the NPL.

EPA proposes adding former Hammond lead smelter to list of nation’s most polluted sites