West Calumet Housing Complex – East Chicago, Ind.
Update - January 2021
In November 2020, contractors working for a redevelopment firm chosen by the City of East Chicago collected soil samples at the former West Calumet Housing Complex within Zone 1. The purpose of the soil sampling is to further delineate the extent of soil contamination at the property, in preparation for a future cleanup.
In March 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler amended the 2012 cleanup plan for the former West Calumet Housing Complex in Zone 1. The amendment to the Record of Decision (94 pp, 2.1 MB, About PDF) reflects EPA’s awareness of local efforts to redevelop Zone 1 for commercial use, although the current designation remains residential.
EPA estimates that cleanup to residential reuse standards would cost approximately $28.8 million and would take 7 months. The cleanup would require 2 feet of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil to be removed, disposed of off-site and replaced with clean soil. The site would then be suitable for new housing development. In response to public comments, the ROD amendment also requires management of contaminated soil while such redevelopment is underway.
The city of East Chicago has indicated a preference for redeveloping the property for commercial/industrial use. EPA's amendment includes a contingent cleanup plan to accommodate this potential change. If the property is re-zoned and a developer commits, the ROD amendment requires cleanup of the property to the level required for industrial/commercial reuse. This type of cleanup would cost an estimated $14.1 million and would take approximately 5 months. In May 2020, the East Chicago City Council approved the re-zoning of the former West Calumet Housing Complex property from residential to commercial use. EPA is currently in discussions with the developer chosen by the City of East Chicago and parties responsible for the pollution to clean up Zone 1.
In summer 2019, the parties responsible for the pollution cleaned up two areas around the former Carrie Gosch Elementary School. One area (Excavation Area 1) is on the school property located inside the main gate. The other area (Excavation Area 2) is located just outside the main gate to the former school. The contaminated soil was removed from these areas and replaced with clean fill. The areas were then restored to natural conditions. Due to underground pipelines, the mounded area located within Excavation Area 2 was restored to its previous condition.
- Fact Sheet: Comment Period and Public Meeting on a Proposed Amendment to the Cleanup Plan for the Residential Area (Zone 1) (PDF) (8 pp, 1.74 MB, About PDF)
Results of Lead and Arsenic Testing
EPA took soil samples from front and back yards at all residences in the complex starting in December 2014 and continuing into 2015. Personally identifiable information has been removed.