Groups ask EPA to ensure East Chicago has safe water

Groups ask EPA to ensure East Chicago has safe water.
Several community groups petitioned the EPA on Thursday to immediately act to protect residents from lead in their drinking water.
According to the petition, the East Chicago Water Department and Indiana Department of Environmental Management have failed to adequately address the problem in the short-term, so the Environmental Protection Agency should use its emergency powers.
Up to 90 percent of East Chicago’s water lines could be lead, so residents should assume they have lead pipes and use a properly certified faucet filter, EPA said.
‘Until the water is safe to drink’ EPA has identified East Chicago as an environmental justice community, in part, because many of its residents are poor, said Anjali Waikar, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
City, state and federal officials have rightly focused on addressing contamination in the soil of the Superfund site, the petition said.
EPA provided water filters and bottled water to residents at the 43 homes it tested, but no government agency has provided filters or bottled water to other East Chicago water system customers.
EPA has said little to no orthophosphate, a chemical used to prevent lead from leaching into water from lead service lines, was found in the city’s water.
IDEM has confirmed it is working with the city to adjust chemical levels.
Several actions requested In addition to providing filters or bottled water, the petition asks EPA to immediately conduct citywide testing of drinking water, implement a program to ensure filters are properly installed and maintained, ensure the city’s compliance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule, use its authority to review the city’s corrosion control requirements, replace faucets in residents’ homes as needed, expand blood testing of children under age 7 who are enrolled in Medicaid or are otherwise at-risk, and order any other necessary relief.

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