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11/22/2018 10:22:00 AM
EPA to install 14 wells throughout U.S.S. Lead Superfund site in East Chicago
Yards and homes in the East Chicago Superfund site, such as in the 5000 block of Melville Avenue, are marked with protective fencing. (Joe Puchek/Post-Tribune)
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Yards and homes in the East Chicago Superfund site, such as in the 5000 block of Melville Avenue, are marked with protective fencing. (Joe Puchek/Post-Tribune)

Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to install monitoring wells at the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site in East Chicago to look at contaminated groundwater.

Katherine Thomas, an EPA remedial project manager, said contractors could begin the installation next week in the ongoing study of the extent of contamination and potential risks to residents. The 14 wells that were part of an agreement reached in the summer will be at shallow and deep depths

The groundwater investigation will be focused on unexcavated areas of the former U.S.S. Lead factory site, off Kennedy Avenue, and neighboring wetlands, Thomas.said, with quarterly sampling results to be distributed with the help of community groups. The site was remediated under the EPA’s Resource Recovery and Conservation Act program.

The EPA reached an administrative agreement last year with U.S.S. Lead, whose name was used to designate the area a Superfund site, to conduct groundwater and soil testing to explore any remaining contamination. The company will do both a remedial investigation to look at potential contamination, according to EPA documents, and a feasibility study that details ways to contain any problems.

“Residual contamination from lead and other metals may remain in soil, wetlands and other areas within the former U.S.S. Lead facility that may result in unacceptable exposure of contaminants to human and ecological receptors,” the EPA said in the agreement. Possible off-site groundwater contamination is coming from the facility, it noted.

U.S.S. Lead operated its East Chicago facility from 1906 to 1985, and in 1996 constructed a corrective action management unit where contaminated material was contained. The EPA said the company also built barriers to limit other contaminants.

In 2009, the U.S.S. Lead site was listed on the national priorities list, according to EPA documents. The residential areas of the Calumet neighborhood were investigated for remediation and in 2012 the EPA detailed clean-up plans for that portion of the Superfund site.

Related Stories:
• Clean-up plan for East Chicago's contaminated DuPont site finalized
• East Chicago residents unnerved with EPA cleanup

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