EPA Chief Visits East Chicago Amid Fears Agency Is Leaving Region

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EPA Chief Visits East Chicago Amid Fears Agency Is Leaving Region

Scott Pruitt is touring a housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana where 1,000 people have been ordered to evacuate because of lead and arsenic in the ground.

Geertsman explained East Chicago and the state of IN have a poor history with treating the city's drinking water for lead. "And we air we breathe is contaminated", said Thomas Frank, a resident of the community of roughly 30,000 who lives near the Superfund site.

Administrator Scott Pruitt will join IN leaders including Gov. Eric Holcomb IN East Chicago.

They wanted Pruitt to know how EPA cuts could affect the health and safety of their community, according to a report. "He should sit down with the EPA employees and answer their questions about how these cuts will impact their work, and the environment".

Pruitt says leaders talked about setting concrete steps. Please check your email for a welcome confirmation.

"The reason I'm here is because it's important that we restore confidence for the people here in this community that we're going to get it right", Pruitt said during a news conference.

The labor union representing Environmental Protection Agency workers at a regional office reportedly on the chopping block are asking for a meeting with the agency's administrator this week. They cried foul over his decision to skip meeting with them at the Chicago regional office. At this time, our discussions have not veered into the subject of an office closure.

But his #Back2Basics plans for the EPA, which includes rolling back regulations for companies, would lead to additional problems in East Chicago.

"If you close our office, the ability to protect the Great Lakes would be in danger".

"If they had any thoughts about closing this office, we wanted to take no chances and make sure that we stood in opposition", she said.

Barbara Bolling-Williams, state president of the IN branch of the NAACP, said she is cautiously optimistic following Pruitt's visit, but added that his visit comes with the threat of "a skinnier EPA budget, fewer regulations - and rumors Chicago's regional EPA office could be shut down looms IN the background".

Michael J. Mikulka, president of Local 704, said the union never received a response to its invitation.

Residents and their supporters railed against any cuts at EPA and demanded action to ensure those affected by the lead crisis are made whole as they prepared Wednesday for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's visit.

The visit, while praised by elected officials of both parties, drew protests. "The fact that he came here to tour the superfund site, that means a lot", Lopez said.

The EPA is waiting on East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland to provide a redevelopment plan for the soon-to-be-demolished site. Evacuations began last summer.

The housing complex was built over land that had been used by lead and copper smelting companies for almost a century before being shut down in the early 50s.

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