East Chicago resident Elbert Williams, left, speaks with EPA remedial project managers Katherine Thomas, center, and Sarah Rolfes on Saturday during an EPA open house concerning upcoming work at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. (Kyle Telechan/Post-Tribune)
East Chicago resident Elbert Williams, left, speaks with EPA remedial project managers Katherine Thomas, center, and Sarah Rolfes on Saturday during an EPA open house concerning upcoming work at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. (Kyle Telechan/Post-Tribune)
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins another season of residential cleanups in East Chicago, the agency says this could be the final year for removing lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil from around residents’ homes.

The EPA debriefed residents Saturday on its planned cleanup activities at the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site, which encompasses East Chicago’s Calumet neighborhood. During the 2019 season, the EPA plans to remove contaminated soil from at least seven properties in East Calumet and 160 in Calumet.

“Every year, we’ve made continuous progress,” said Sarah Rolfes, an EPA remedial project manager.

Rolfes said if the properties targeted for remediation are completed and the EPA gets access for sampling and remediation at 28 properties in the neighborhood, it would conclude exterior residential cleanups.

Since 2016, the EPA has excavated 582 properties in the two residential zones of the Superfund site.

Debbie Chizewer, of Northwestern University’s environmental advocacy clinic, who is working with the East Chicago Calumet Coalition organization, said residents want the EPA to expedite a study of the groundwater in the area to see if there’s any risk for recontamination of properties that have been remediated.

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