EPA willing to amend West Calumet cleanup plan for distribution center development

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized a change to the remediation plan for the former West Calumet housing complex site in East Chicago in response to the city’s effort to transform the site into a logistics, distribution and warehouse campus.

The development firm Industrial Development Advantage is seeking zoning changes in anticipation of purchasing about 55 acres northwest of the intersection of McCook Avenue and East 151st Street for $2.15 million. An initial facility of at least 600,000 square feet would employ hundreds of workers, IDA executives said.

The site of the former U.S.S. lead refinery is contaminated with lead and arsenic; about 1,200 residents were evacuated from the EPA-designated Superfund site three years ago.

The EPA’s amendment of the cleanup plan depends on the rezoning of the land and a final commitment from IDA. The potential change would reduce the cleanup from what the EPA calls a residential standard — removal contaminated soil to a depth of 24 inches — to an industrial/commercial standard — removal of 12 inches. The former would cost about $28.8 million and take seven months, according to the EPA, while the latter has an estimated cost of $14.1 million and a duration of five months.

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