EPA Orders East Chicago Sanitary District to Cease Discharges of Untreated Wastewater to the Grand Calumet River
Residents advised to avoid contact with river until further notice
CHICAGO (October 7, 2022) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an administrative order under its Clean Water Act authority to the East Chicago Sanitary District in East Chicago, Indiana, to stop an ongoing discharge of untreated wastewater to the Grand Calumet River following the rupture of a major sewer line. The agency urges residents and visitors to the area to avoid contact with the river until further notice.
On September 28, a semi-truck fell through a sinkhole and ruptured a 42-inch sewer pipe carrying raw wastewater to the East Chicago wastewater treatment plant. The incident caused raw sewage to flood the wastewater treatment plant site and Indianapolis Boulevard, which was temporarily blocked. Discharges are also flowing out of a combined sewer overflow point (located on the west side of the Cline Avenue frontage road) into the east branch of the Grand Calumet River at a rate of about 8 million gallons per day.
EPA’s order requires East Chicago Sanitary District (ECSD) to stop discharges of untreated sewage to the Grand Calumet River by October 11. ECSD will install bypass piping and begin repairs to the ruptured sewer pipe, which carries almost 80% of the system’s wastewater to the treatment plant. EPA’s order also requires ECSD to improve communication with the public by supplementing a public service advisory that was previously issued about the combined sewer overflow and posting results of daily sampling in the river online.
EPA is coordinating closely with Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). IDEM on-scene coordinators responded to the spill on the first day and its wastewater treatment plant inspectors have been on-site each weekday since.