Calumet Lead Crisis Update – 11 Dec

Community organizing gets the goods. And after successfully pushing East Chicago mayor Anthony Copeland to request disaster relief from the state, organizers with the East Chicago Community Strategy Group continue to voice demands. The Post Tribune featured the political flak after 18 of 45 homes in the Calumet community tested positive for elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. Labor organizer Ruth Needleman posted a full list of the community strategy group’s demands on her Facebook wall.

CBS Chicago’s Dorothy Tucker quotes East Chicago mayor Anthony Copeland as saying the city has “proactively added a new ingredient” to the city’s water treatment and is looking to provide filters for residents. Indiana Public Media also took a look at the burgeoning water crisis in East Chicago.

Today’s NWI Times offers a double feature of much needed historical context to the Calumet lead crisis. Lauren Cross shows that while lead exposure has overall declined nationwide, the odds of testing positive for elevated blood levels for those living in heavy industrialized areas is far greater. The historical extent is unknown and the records are proving hard to come by. The article features an excellent interactive map showing instances of elevated blood levels in children across the three county region.  “We don’t have great surveillance data, so it’s difficult to put in perspective.” says Dr. Bruce Lanphear, who recently spoke in East Chicago.

Sarah Reese takes a fascinating and detailed look at the sordid history of urban renewal projects in East Chicago in the 1960s, drawing from old Times and Chicago Tribune articles, but concludes it is still “unclear whether former officials knew the [environmental] risks associated with the project.”

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