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7/9/2017 7:01:00 PM
Community groups confront East Chicago pollution

Lauren Cross, Times of Northwest Indiana

EAST CHICAGO — USS Lead Superfund site residents have successfully secured non-profit status, which allows them to apply for grant dollars and further participate in the EPA decision-making process as the federal agency continues cleanup of contaminated soil. 

Carlyle Edwards, of East Chicago, spearheaded efforts to seek 501(c)3 status for the East Chicago Calumet Coalition/Community Advisory Group. They received word June 21 from the IRS.

The main motivation for filing paperwork with the IRS was so residents could apply for a $50,000-to-start Superfund Technical Assistance Grant, available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The TAG grant can be used to hire an independent technical advisor to review lengthy EPA documents and explain the decision-making process, Edwards said. He said the group would consider applying for additional grants and seek independent soil testing. 

"This could give us the leverage, the ability, to do our own tests and monitor testing conducted by the EPA," Edwards said. 

The non-profit status also means any donation to the group can be tax-exempt, he said. 

Cleanup is ongoing in zones 2 and 3 — Calumet and East Calumet — of the EPA Superfund site. Excavation work in zone 1 has been put on hold pending an updated feasibility study following a decision by the city and its housing authority to relocate residents at the West Calumet Housing Complex.

EPA officials continue to work toward securing funding to complete the cleanup at the USS Lead Superfund site, particularly at properties in zone 2 that do not meet "priority" standards for remediation this year, the federal agency said a recent community meeting. 

In related news, a number of public meetings and events associated with the USS Lead Superfund site and other polluted sites in East Chicago have been set.

Related Stories:
• 'It's a disaster': East Chicago still reeling from lead crisis

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