Congressman Pete Visclosky speaks with RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna while Hammond Mayor, Tom McDermott and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman discuss the EPA's Brownfield Program Grant to be awarded to the RDA. [Photo/Karl Berner, Region News Team]
Federal, state and Region officials gathered in Hammond this morning to announce a new partnership between the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency. RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman were joined by the mayors of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, and Congressman Pete Visclosky as the two entities announced an 800-thousand dollar EPA Brownfield program grant which will help the RDA and the three north Lake County cities and NIRPC with brownfield cleanup. This grant will go toward the establishment of a one-million dollar revolving loan fund for Gary, Hammond and East Chicago brownfield remediation. Projects targeted include former US Steel site Buffington Harbor, the Gary downtown city center, the 6200 block of Columbia in Hammond, and the Union Tank car site in East Chicago. This grant is the third partnership between the RDA and the EPA. Previously the RDA was awarded one-million dollars for the dredging of Marquette Park lagoon, and a 350-thousand dollar grant for Miller Beach stormwater mitigation. Both of those EPA grants resulted from the RDA’s $28 million Marquette Park restoration project.
-Buffington Harbor. This former U.S. Steel site includes 200 acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline contaminated with heavy metals, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These contaminants can cause kidney and liver damage, respiratory problems and cancer, among other ailments.
-The Gary Downtown City Center. This includes 15 city blocks in central Gary that once housed paint shops, auto service centers, dry cleaners and printing shops. The area has concentrations of lead, heavy metals, hexavalent, chromium, solvents, PAHs and asbestos that can cause nerve and liver damage, respiratory issues, anemia and bone marrow problems and mesothelioma.
-Union Tank Car. This 50-acre site in East Chicago was once used to manufacturer railroad tank cars and is contaminated with heavy metals, lead, solvents, hexavalent, chromium and PAHs.
-The 6200 Block of Columbia. This consists of 15 acres of vacant commercial space in southeast Hammond that is contaminated with chlorinated-VOCs that can cause headaches, respiratory problems, nerve and liver damage, and affect fetal development.