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Whiting Metals generic

Whiting Metals, formerly Federated Metals, is pictured recently in Hammond.

HAMMOND — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a community meeting this week for residents living near the former Federated Metals site in the Robertsdale neighborhood.

The meeting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the social room at the Whiting Family YMCA, 1938 Clark St.

The meeting will begin with a presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session where residents can talk to EPA staff one on one, EPA said.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made an unannounced visit to the neighborhood around the former Federated Metals facility, 2230 Indianapolis Blvd. in Hammond, in mid-April. 

Afterward, EPA announced Pruitt had signed a memorandum authorizing $1.7 million for removal of lead-contaminated soil at priority properties in the neighborhood, which includes homes in Hammond and Whiting.

To be designated a priority, a property must have a lead level of 1,200 parts per million or more and be occupied by a sensitive population, such as a child or pregnant woman.

Whiting Metals currently operates at the site and is permitted by the state to emit lead through 2027.

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Local and state officials held a free blood lead testing clinic for residents March 16. Residents with children who did not receive blood lead testing during the clinic are encouraged to speak with their pediatricians about testing.

Children are particularly at-risk when exposed to lead because, even at low doses, it can cause behavioral problems and irreversible learning disabilities.

EPA began sampling city-owned properties in late 2016 and later designated a residential sampling area that included occupied homes. The residential sampling area recently was expanded to include more homes.

EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management conducted additional sampling this spring, and validated results have not yet been released.

Of 30 occupied residential properties, 25 had lead levels above 400 parts per million and nine had levels above 1,200 ppm. Five of the nine with lead levels over 1,200 ppm were also occupied by sensitive populations, records show.

The residential cleanup level at the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago is 400 ppm. California has set its residential cleanup level at 70 ppm.

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