Last week, we began following the news about East Chicago, Indiana, where dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic have been found in the soil of a public affordable housing community and nearby elementary school affecting hundreds of families and children.
It’s a familiar story after Flint, Michigan’s lead-contaminated water crisis made headlines earlier this year. Both fall within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5. Their response as well as other governmental agencies at local, state, and federal levels has been criticized.
There are, of course, some big differences. The affected West Calumet Complex in East Chicago falls within an already designated EPA Superfund site where years before companies “smelted, dealt with or processed lead for decades,” according to CNN. The EPA has since sued several of these Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). But attorneys will now have to determine to what extent governmental agencies share in ongoing remedial efforts.
To fully understand the crisis in East Chicago, government, environmental, and public health officials, as well as attorneys from both sides, would do well to incorporate historical research into their investigations.
We regularly conduct historical research as part of a due diligence approach to PRP investigations. This is often a critical component that helps our legal clients build their environmental and toxic tort cases.