There is an emerging soil crisis in East Chicago, Indiana, which has a population of about 30,000 people and sits less than 25 miles east of Chicago, Illinois. As early as 2009 city, state and federal agencies were aware of high lead levels in the soil, as a result of lead smelting operations that occurred at or around the area for many years. The U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery, Inc. site takes up 79 acres in East Chicago, which has for years encompassed commercial, municipal and residential areas. Between 1906 and 1985, a copper smelter, lead refinery and secondary lead smelter operated on site. During that time, USS Lead was a major contributor to contamination in the area. There were also additional private facilities that served as sources of contamination during that period. The main contaminants are lead and arsenic.
On November 30, 2012, after a lengthy investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a cleanup plan for the site, which included excavation and off-site disposal of soil with high lead levels. At the time, it was estimated that more than half of the properties in the area required cleanup.
On October 28, 2014, federal and state agencies reached an agreement with E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co. (“DuPont”) and Atlantic Richfield Company (“ARCO”), which is a subsidiary of BP America, to clean up portions of the residential areas of the site.
Unfortunately, the “cleanup” was a colossal failure. As of July, 2016, levels of lead in the ground on/around residents’ homes were at least ten times higher than the acceptable level. In some instances, lead levels were above 5000 parts per million, and the standard level is 400 parts per million.
Thousands of children have been exposed to lead as a result of the soil contamination, by simply playing in the grass and throwing a football or having a baseball catch.
Corey Stern, an attorney at LK who has filed individual lawsuits for over 800 children in Flint, Michigan that were exposed to and poisoned by lead contaminated water, stated: “The situation in East Chicago is a tragedy. Unfortunately, it is indicative of a pattern – corporate greed meets laziness and the mighty dollar, in an environment comprised of the financially less fortunate. Who suffers? The children. Children have the potential to make their lives mean something regardless of where they’re from. But it’s not easy for children in impoverished areas. When you poison the brain of a child in that situation, you steal what is most important in this world, hope.”
The lead poisoning lawyers at Levy Konigsberg, LLP are available to discuss any potential case that involves toxic and environmental exposure cases that have life-changing effects on individuals.
IMPORTANT: If you believe that you or your child has been lead-poisoned, you should speak with an experienced lead poisoning lawyer regarding your legal rights. Contact the lead poisoning lawyers at Levy Konigsberg, LLP for a free consultation by calling our 24/7 toll-free hotline at 1-800-988-8005 or by submitting an email inquiry (see form above).