Residents told to relocate after high lead levels found in dirt

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (WLS) -- Thousands of people who live in a Northwest Indiana housing complex were told to relocate after the Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of lead in the soil.

Scattered throughout the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago are signs to stay away from the dirt. These signs appeared after elevated lead levels were found in the top six inches of the soil.

Despite a protection agency remedy of mulch on the dirt, East Chicago's Mayor sent letters to over 1,000 residents suggesting they temporarily relocate for their safety.

"I think it is a precautionary action, I support it whole-heartedly," said resident Morrissa Boleware. "I will go wherever I need to go for the safety of my son. We haven't been here that long, we are not rooted here, we can possibly move."

Lead is nothing new in Northwest Indiana. The complex is part of an 80 acre site that is on the EPA national priorities list after the land was home to a lead facility for decades.

Two years ago, the EPA reached a settlement to fund the cleanup. As remediation began to June, more testing was done and that is when the high lead levels were discovered.

The EPA tested homes and the state of Indiana tested every child in the West Calumet Housing Complex. The agency is still waiting for those results.

"If the EPA hasn't completed the testing, why is there such an urgency for people to relocate," said Sherry Hunter.

Hunter said negative test results are coming back for so many kids.

"He has been came back negative," said Boleware of her son.

While Yarnell Arrington is waiting for results for his kids, he is not taking any chances.

"They have to remove their shoes before they come in and wash their hands," Arrington said. "They pick up all kinds of dirt."
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