Environmental Protection Agency

This Sept. 21, 2017, file photo shows The Environmental Protection Agency Building in Washington. 

EAST CHICAGO — Residents will have the opportunity later this month to sound off on the Environmental Protection Agency's communications of human health risks in the lead- and arsenic-contaminated USS Lead Superfund site. 

As part of the office's review of EPA's communication of human health risks to residents, the agency's Office of the Inspector General is hosting a local listening session for East Chicago families living in the site, according to a news release. 

The listening session will be from 6-8 p.m. June 26 at the East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy, 1402 East Chicago Ave.

At the event, oral arguments will be accepted from anyone wishing to speak about EPA's effectiveness in communicating ways to avoid exposure to harmful contaminants or substances. 

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The OIG is an independent office that performs audits and investigations of the EPA to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse, according to the release. The OIG also does not direct or manage the EPA’s communication of human health risks.

In recent years, residents have heavily criticized the EPA, which has been studying contaminants at the site since the 1980s, saying the federal agency took little action to minimize harms until summer 2016 when new soil testing revealed dangerous lead and arsenic levels. However, EPA officials argue they have clearly communicated potential harms at this site and accelerated cleanup in recent years. The 2016 discovery prompted the city's mayor to evacuate residents living in the public housing complex there. EPA has been cleaning up yards in neighborhoods to the east since that time. 

The review of EPA's communication with families living in East Chicago's USS Lead Superfund site is part of the OIG's larger objective of reviewing EPA communications across multiple sites, according to a news release. 

The office is seeking input about EPA's effectiveness in communicating about site sampling and monitoring results; indicators of human health risk; schedules and milestones for planned and completed site activities: safeguards in place for protecting human health; actions needed to avoid exposure to harmful contaminants or substances; and the overall timeliness/effectiveness of the EPA’s communication regarding this site.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.