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Friday, February 10, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - "Governor Holcomb declares disaster emergency at East Chicago Superfund site"

Updating a number of earlier ILB posts, Sarah Reese and Dan Carden of the NWI Times reported yesterday:

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order Thursday declaring a disaster emergency for East Chicago's USS Lead Superfund site.

The declaration provides for 30 days of enhanced state assistance for the estimated 100 residents who have yet to relocate from the lead contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex, as well as other lead-impacted citizens in the affected area.

Specifically, the state will aggressively seek $2 million in federal funding to demolish West Calumet, along with additional federal resources to remediate soil and replace lead water pipes in adjacent neighborhoods.

Holcomb also ordered state agencies to seek federal approval for more lead testing sites throughout the city, promote the development of new, affordable rental housing in East Chicago and create a one-stop website for residents to keep up with federal, state and local progress reports.

In addition, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is empowered to obtain any services needed on an emergency basis from any level of government.

"What I want to do is make sure we get this right," Holcomb said. "Putting a 30-day shot clock on our efforts, I think, will help us not just corral, but (also) focus all of our efforts — the federal, state and local efforts — on it right now." * * *

Holcomb's predecessor, now-Vice President Mike Pence, rejected East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland's request for an emergency declaration before Pence left office one month ago.

In a letter, Pence's general counsel Mark Ahearn said the state already had provided adequate assistance.

Residents and community groups heavily criticized Pence last year for not meeting personally with those affected by the lead and arsenic contamination. His office periodically had representatives on-site.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 10, 2017 09:19 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government