Thousands of inhabitants living in an East Chicago housing complex have been told to relocate, after the Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of lead and arsenic in the soil.
The notice, issued by East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, in the last week of July, also helped West Calumet Housing Complex residents understand as to why they experienced for years several “mysterious” health issues, including scarlet fever.
Indiana State Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D) recently called a meeting, during which more than 1,000 residents and experts sat together to determine future strategy.
“I think it reaches the level — in my opinion at this time — of what occurred in Flint, Michigan, with the water crisis. They had a water crisis there, looks like we might have a land crisis here,” Randolph told CBS 2.
Although steps are being taken to deal with the problem, people still want to know why they were informed of the extensiveness of the issue only last month when it has been going on “for decades.”
They also want to know if they have to pay their rent while waiting to relocate.
“Everyone is afraid. A Pandora’s box has been opened. Where are they moving us? Who is paying for it? Are my children safe?” Akeeshea Daniels, who moved to West Calumet Housing Complex in 2004, told ThinkProgress. “Why have they waited this long to tell us?”
Many believe authorities in East Chicago only sprang into action after Flint’s water contamination attracted national spotlight.
“Four decades of families have been made sick or ill because of this. And then they get a notice overnight that they have to move, that their home is going to be destroyed,” said Randolph (D), who is also mobilizing the community in the wake of the crisis. “What I want to know is: Who’s responsible?”
ThinkProgress also reports the EPA office in-charge for East Chicago, Region 5, also managed Flint’s contaminated water system.