EPA to hold public meeting on USS Lead Superfund site cleanup

May 5, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public meeting May 10 to discuss the cleanup of a portion of the USS Lead site that was once the West Calumet Housing Complex.

The EPA said more than 100,000 tons of contaminated soil will be removed from the former West Calumet Housing Complex, a part of Goodman Park and a utility corridor in East Chicago. The cleanup is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The USS Lead Superfund site includes the former U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc. and areas north of the smelter. The West Calumet Housing Complex and surrounding areas are part of the USS Lead Superfund site’s Zone 1.

Map of cleanup areas, including the former West Calumet Housing Complex and Goodman Park - US EPA

The EPA first found evidence of lead contamination from the smelter spreading to neighboring areas in 1980, and contamination hotspots were found in later decades. In 2016, blood testing revealed a large number of children living at the West Calumet Housing Complex had elevated blood lead levels.

The EPA and local agencies then relocated housing residents, demolished the complex and began removing contaminated soil there.

The latest cleanup results from an agreement with the new owner of the former housing complex property that will require less extensive cleanup, according to EPA documents.

The property was rezoned from residential to light industrial, which reduces the soil cleanup criteria. A residential cleanup would require soil contamination to be below 400 parts per million for lead and 26 parts per million for arsenic. The commercial/industrial cleanup requires a less extensive 800 parts per million limit for lead.

EPA will hold a public meeting May 10 at the Old Carrie Gosch School Auditorium at 455 E. 148th St. in East Chicago from 5-7 p.m.

For more information, head to the EPA’s USS Lead Superfund site web page.

EPA to hold public meeting on USS Lead Superfund site cleanup