East Chicago Lead Crisis

West Calumet residents file lawsuit to halt relocation

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By Nick Janzen, IPB News

Residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex are suing local officials as well as the private companies responsible for cleaning the neighborhood’s lead polluted soil.

In June, East Chicago Mayor Copeland ordered the demolition of the complex because lead levels have been measured over 100 times what’s considered safe. Over 1000 residents were ordered to move.

But many residents say they’re having trouble finding new housing.

Attorney Alex Mendoza is representing the West Calumet residents and says city officials should have warned residents about the contamination sooner.

“So, we just don’t think it’s right for the city, all of a sudden after decades of the exposure, to say that you have to leave in 30 days, you know, as if there home is really just nothing,” Mendoza says.

The suit was filed on behalf of 13 residents against the City of East Chicago and Mayor Anthony Copeland, the East Chicago Housing Authority, and its director, Tia Cauley.

The residents’ attorney Mendoza hopes the suit will stop the city’s relocation plan.

“People would not be kicked out of their homes and that their homes would not be contaminated with lead,” Mendoza says.

East Chicago City Attorney Carla Morgan says the city cannot comment on pending litigation.

British Petroleum, DuPont, and Atlantic Richfield are also named in the lawsuit. These companies are paying to clean up the lead contaminated housing complex and part of the surrounding neighborhood.  Three million federal dollars have been pledged to help residents move.


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