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EPA adds East Chicago site to Superfund list; proposes Elkhart, Ind., site

Release Date: 04/08/2009
Contact Information: (EPA) William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov (IDEM) Amy Hartsock, 317-233-4927, ahartsoc@idem.in.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA049

CHICAGO (April 8, 2009) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added East Chicago, Ind.'s, U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery to the Superfund National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites. EPA has also proposed Elkhart's Lane Street Ground Water Contamination site for addition to the NPL. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex uncontrolled and abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. A public comment period about the proposed listing ends June 8, 2009.

Also added to the NPL: The Behr Dayton Thermal System VOC Plume site in Dayton, and the New Carlisle Landfill, in New Carlisle, Ohio. Two other sites in EPA Region 5 were proposed for the NPL: the Little Scioto River in Marion, Ohio, and the Amcast Industrial Corp. site in Cedarburg, Wis. Nationally, nine new sites were added to the NPL, bringing the total to 1,264, and 13 sites were proposed for addition to the list, bringing the total to 67. Under the NPL process, sites are first proposed and public comments considered before a determination is made to formally add a site to the list. The NPL is updated twice each year.

The U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery site, 5300 Kennedy Ave., East Chicago, operated from 1920 to 1985. Lead, most likely dispersed from long-removed smokestacks, has been detected in residential soil north of the property. The company also discharged process water to wetlands on the property that flow toward the Grand Calumet River Corridor. In July 2008 EPA began removing lead-contaminated soil from 15 nearby homes. Adding the site to the NPL enables EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to complete a comprehensive approach to address the contamination. Exposure to high lead levels can cause developmental problems in young children. Lead exposure may also increase blood pressure in middle-aged men.

The Lane Street site lies beneath the intersection of Lane Street and County Road 106. In 2007 Elkhart County Health Department and Indiana Department of Environmental Management found chlorinated solvents including trichloroethylene, or TCE, in area ground water. TCE is a colorless liquid. Drinking or breathing high levels of TCE may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage and abnormal heartbeat.

Initially, IDEM provided water filtration systems or bottled water to about 30 homes. In November 2008 EPA completed a Superfund construction project to bring municipal water line connections to those homes. Next, EPA and IDEM will investigate the potential source or sources of the contamination. Once this is determined-and if Lane Street is added to the NPL-EPA and IDEM will propose a long-term approach to the site.

Residents with questions about the USS Lead and Lane Street Ground Water sites may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Janet Pope, 312-353-0628, or pope.janet@epa.gov.

A 60-day comment period on the newly proposed NPL sites is under way. Links to the Federal Register notice, information on submitting comments, background on the NPL process and summaries of the sites newly added or proposed are at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm.

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