EPA seeks to derail cleanup of coal power plant pollution

Posted April 20, 2017

Perhaps we should thank Administrator Pruitt for visiting East Chicago today.

The lead-and-arsenic contaminated 346-unit housing complex was built in the early 1970s on the footprint of a former lead smelter.

Maritza Lopez, a Superfund resident, held up a multipage list of medications she takes daily to show those gathered at the NAACP news conference the effects of contamination in the neighborhood she has long called home.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is in the Chicago area Wednesday to look at a public housing complex with unsafe toxins in its soil.

Last week, Scott Pruitt announced a #Back2Basics campaign that proposes returning the EPA to its supposed roots: protecting the environment, spurring job growth, and not burdening industry with rules and regulations.

Demetra Turner, 44, a resident of the West Calumet Housing Complex who has yet to leave, urged others to keep pressure on the EPA.

The Chicago Sun Times says EPA's Region 5 office is on the chopping block; it serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Native American tribes.

The possible closure of the Environmental Protection Agency office in Chicago is being opposed by Congressman Fred Upton. The program is meant to support poor, often minority communities with severe environmental challenges.

Some environmental advocates are calling Wednesday's visit a first major test of Pruitt's leadership.

On Wednesday, Pruitt refuted the report during a 45-minute meeting with East Chicago residents, Frank said.

She said her organization wants to see the EPA do more to protect the East Chicago community. The inspector general further said that the employee only received a conviction of 20 hours of community service, a $2,500 fine and a 21-day suspension.

"We need them to commit to adjusting cleanup plan for the site". Instead of digging up two feet of contaminated soil for disposal, digging up eight feet. East Chicago Utilities Director Greg Crowley told the Times of Northwest Indiana that it would have been "helpful if [the EPA] had been more hands-on" in helping the city make the switch to different chemicals. This year, IN will distribute filters to all residents IN Zones 2 and 3.

The private sector is set to get a big boost under this administration, and the latest talk to limit the power of the public sphere involves pushing legal consideration to outside counsel, potentially bypassing the influence of longtime EPA employees in favor of kowtowing to corporate concerns. Those demands include: Oversight of East Chicago's ongoing attempts to improve its corrosion control treatment; expanded blood-lead level testing of children under age 7; bottled water and home water filtration systems to residents throughout the city and testing the city's drinking water to determine the extent of the contamination.

EPA officials in Chicago and Washington did not immediately respond to questions about the report.