File this one under “news that you probably missed.”
Indiana’s new Governor, Eric Holcomb, has just issued a state of emergency for an area in the city of East Chicago, Indiana, that has long been on the radar due to lead contamination in the soil and groundwater.
This order comes after months of turmoil in the community affected by the contamination, as residents of the low income housing area have struggled to find new places to live. One of the samples taken from the affected area showed lead levels a whopping 227 times above the maximum safe limit.
The state of emergency order will, according to Gov. Holcomb, “accelerate, coordinate and focus local, state and federal efforts and resources where they will have the greatest benefit.”
The local Fox affiliate, Fox 59, reports of the affected area:
‘The West Calumet Complex was built on top of the Anaconda White Lead Company, south of a former USS Lead industrial site and next to a DuPont site. The companies smelted or processed lead for decades.’
Indeed, and it’s birthed out of that volatile set up that residents received notice from the Environmental Protection Agency about the contamination and the need for special precautions to be taken last summer. They were, according to the local Fox affiliate, “warned not to let children play in the dirt and were told to wash their toys.”
Residents and community leaders were, at the time, outraged on account of the fact that the EPA purportedly knew about the contamination for years before warning those who were actually living in the area. This gross negligence could have created a situation as dire as that in Flint, Michigan, where virtually an entire city of children were poisoned by lead in the public water supply.
Ironically, the former Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, is now the Vice President of the United States. It’s thus our current VP who wouldn’t grant the disaster declaration to the residents of the affected area in East Chicago that would have allowed them to get the help they needed faster.
Watch a news report from the local CBS affiliate about the disaster declaration for East Chicago below, featuring testimony from one of the individuals’ affected.