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21 April 2017, 02:42 | Ross Houston
EPA Administer Promises Back-to-Basics Agenda
The federal EPA administrator traveled to East Chicago Wednesday, months after the agency discovered dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic in the city's soil.
U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt address a crowd during his visit to East Chicago, Indiana, with state and local officials including Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Sen.
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.
They are anxious Pruitt won't do enough to eradicate the problem because he and President Trump want to roll back environmental regulations.
Brooks also cited concerns about rumors the administration also might be considering eliminating two of EPA's regional offices, including the Region 5 office that now is overseeing cleanup efforts in East Chicago.
It was the latest in a slew of actions by Pruitt to set aside environmental regulations opposed by corporate interests. Also, Trump has proposed eliminating EPA's budget by almost one-third.
"It's the EPA's objective, my objective as administrator of the EPA, to come in and make sure that people's health is protected here in East Chicago".
"They made pleas for assistance, for help", he said.
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While in town, Pruitt toured the epicenter of its lead crisis, the West Calumet housing complex.
Debbie Chizewer, a law fellow at Northwestern University's Environmental Advocacy Clinic, said the East Chicago residents she works with were excited about the high-profile visit, but still anxious that cleanup efforts already underway will not go far enough.
Chanting crowds weaved through streets of East Chicago on Wednesday near a Superfund site. Housing officials said their goal is to move out all families by May.
"We can't drink the water". Abigail Dillen of Earthjustice.org said the plan is simply getting rid of "the health and environmental protections we all rely on-protections only the government can provide".
"And by whole, we don't merely mean making the land whole, we don't merely mean making the buildings whole", Brooks says.
The people who live there are at risk of lead contamination at every turn.
East Chicago is receiving $16.5 million in EPA State Revolving Fund (SRF) funding for drinking-water infrastructure upgrades.EPA, the state and the city are working together to coordinate lead service-line replacement with cleanup work to expedite completion of the work and minimize disruptions.EPA provided 54 homes with filters and bottled water while Superfund work was underway at those properties in Zones 2 and 3.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday would not address rumors about whether Chicago's regional office would be closed - even as the head of that office issued a memo calling the reports "pure speculation".
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