The EPA plans to clean up the old Federated Metals Corp. Whiting site in Hammond. The decision came after a long process that started in 2016.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added the site to its Superfund National Priorities List on Sept. 6.
“By cleaning up this site, EPA can support residents to help create healthy, thriving communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore in a press release.
Federated Metals Corp.'s parent company ASARCO filed for bankruptcy in 2005 before EPA-required cleanup was completed at the former metal smelting, refining, recovery and recycling facility in Hammond along the shore of Lake George. Operations at the site ceased in 1983, but various smelting activities continued until 2020 under other ownership. The site was referred to the EPA’s Superfund removal program in 2016 after regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Lead and arsenic were found at elevated concentrations in residential yards near the facility, according to the EPA's website. From 2018 to 2019, the EPA provided short-term cleanup by excavating lead-contaminated soils at 33 residential properties in Whiting and Hammond. The EPA also confirmed that about 130 homes have lead-contaminated soil and 200 more need sampling. Sediment in Lake George also was found to have higher levels of lead than recommended for wildlife.
In August 2021, the city of Hammond started removing lead-contaminated soil in Hammond properties. In early 2023, the city reported that 47 residential yards were cleaned up. The city received notice from the EPA in April that it was seeking the Superfund status.
“The city of Hammond is pleased that it was able to give its residents some relief by pro-actively remediating many of the affected properties,” said Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. in a press release.
The release also said the cleanup could take from seven to 12 years.
“The city of Hammond will continue to assist its residents to ensure their properties are remediated,” McDermott said. “We are committed to working with state and federal officials, but also will continue its work while the federal process plays out.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $3.5 billion in the Superfund Remedial Program. Superfund cleanups provide health and economic benefits for communities that have no one to blame for contamination left by defunct or abandoned properties.