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20 April 2017, 06:33 | Justin Tyler
The federal EPA administrator traveled to East Chicago Wednesday, months after the agency discovered dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic in the city's soil.
Past year approximately 1,000 residents in the West Calumet Housing Complex were ordered to relocate, the reportsaid.
NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks said Pruitt and Gov. Eric Holcomb arrived Wednesday to address an environmental crisis "40 years in the making" in East Chicago, but President Donald Trump's budget plan contemplates gutting the EPA.
The Chicago Sun-Timesreported on Saturday that the EPA is considering combining its regional offices in Chicago and Kansas, citing a city government source in Chicago. He tells WSJM News the EPA is expected to get major cuts in the next federal budget, but he doesn't think shuttering the office that serves the Great Lakes is a smart move.
It was EPA officials who learned that the state Department of Environmental Quality had not required corrosion treatments when Flint switched to using the Flint River for its water, resulting in lead leaching from aging pipes.
Two dozen families remain at the West Calumet Housing Complex, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Kaplan said the EPA remains committed to work in Region 5 communities, which include Flint, Mich. and those affected by the Superfund site in East Chicago, Ind. "At a time when US Steel is carelessly spilling risky chemicals into Lake Michigan, we can not turn our back on the Great Lakes and allow the Trump administration to muffle the EPA", Emanuel said. Housing officials said their goal is to move out all families by May.
"The administrator and governor are arriving at a moment where the residents of this city, these cities, literally are watching or witnessing their children being poisoned by lead in the water, heavy metals in the soil, contamination in their homes", Brooks said.
"Any attempt by this administration to close any US EPA regional office will further cripple environmental protection efforts, while also sending a clear signal to polluters to further contaminate the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Puget Sound, as well as our rivers, streams and wetlands", said American Federation of Government Employees Local 704 President John O'Grady, whose union represents EPA employees.
Demonstrators rallied in the lead-contaminated community to protest Pruitt's visit.
Resident Demetra Turner, 44, who left Chicago a decade ago for public housing in IN, said she was trying to find safe housing for the two children who live with her. In his speech to Pennsylvania miners, Administrator Pruitt explained that the EPA would be partnering with states and tribes to ensure a "thoughtful approach is used to maximize resources to protect America's air, land, and water".
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