A new lead contamination crisis has been discovered that already has panicking observers calling it “Flint 2.0.”
Hundreds of residents of an East Chicago, Indiana public housing district have been evicted from their homes over the contamination. Lead and arsenic have reportedly been seeping into the area for decades, emanating from the remains of a nearby industrial plant that has been closed — but not cleaned up — since 1985.
Also for decades, local residents have come down with strange and unexplainable illnesses. These illnesses are no longer unexplainable, however, with the sudden reveal of the contamination, which government agencies have known about for years.
Free blood tests administered to the soon-to-be former residents of the area have already found 29 cases of potentially life-threatening levels of lead in the recipients’ bloodstreams. Most of those found to be affected are under the age of six.
RT notes that exposure to lead in young children leads to “major brain damage, including mental and behavioral disorders and seizures,” which is what happened to so many children in Flint, Michigan after that city’s water supply was found to be contaminated with lead.
Why have the plant and areas around the plant gone for so long without being cleaned? RT reports that the area wasn’t added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “cleanup priority list” until 2009.
Three more years passed before the EPA actually hatched a plan to clean up the area, one which consisted of hauling away the soil. The soil is the main medium for the lead to spread in this case, as opposed to the water supply in Flint.
That plan, one which would require the demolition of all homes in the area, never actually got put on the agenda, however, until now.
For all of these years, residents have remained living among the contamination, with no notice from any government agency or otherwise about the dangers lurking in the soil.
The first notice that residents got that “something was up” was the appearance of signs throughout the area admonishing children to keep out of the soil — children who had been playing in the heavily contaminated environment for years.
Still, these children are both poor and black, two strikes that are solidly against anyone trying to make a difference for their own safety.
After the signs, the city sent out letters notifying residents of the disaster that had been sitting under them for years. City officials claim that they had no word of the contamination from the EPA or any other agency until immediately before the letters were sent out.
Local leaders and members of the community are furious over the disregard that was shown for the safety of residents and their children, who are often the most vulnerable to high lead levels. Some have banded together to form the “Calumet Lives Matter” Committee, Calumet referring to the area in which the contamination has been found.
Indiana State Senator Lonnie Randolph spoke to the Reverend Al Sharpton about the situation on MSNBC, mentioning the “misinformation” that has been given to the residents that has made them “angry” about what’s going on.
Watch Sharpton interview Randolph below.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 21, 2016
Featured image is via screenshot from the above video.