EPA Federated Metals Announcement
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
CITY OF WHITING AND CITY OF HAMMOND, INDIANA
IN RE EPA FEDERATED METALS ANNOUNCEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The cities of Whiting, Indiana and Hammond, Indiana have received notice from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the intent of the EPA, based on the report of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), to seek a Superfund Designation for the former Federated Metals site in Hammond (“the site”).
Notice of this proposed action was published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2023. Both EPA and IDEM have had a long history with Federated Metals as well as subsequent operators at the site. Through initial soil testing conducted by EPA from December 2016 through December 2018, general boundaries of the contamination were delineated. Test results varied from location to location with the heaviest contaminants found immediately north of the facility. Unfortunately, due to wind patterns, a large swath of midtown Whiting was discovered to have been contaminated as well. Upon completion of the initial testing, it was determined that approximately 700 properties fell within the outfall of the contamination – almost 600 of said properties being located in Whiting.
The EPA conducted an initial emergency clean up of thirty-three (33) properties based on a determination of sensitive populations (defined as residences with either pregnant women or children age 8 and under) and test results of over 1200mg/kg, Nine (9) of the properties were in Whiting and the rest in Hammond. The vast majority of properties in Whiting remain untested due to lack of funds. Hammond, however, became very proactive and remediated forty-seven (47) properties in Robertsdale to date with thirty (30) more scheduled to be remediated in 2023. Hammond’s remediation followed the exact protocol established by the EPA in conducting its clean-up. It is believed that Hammond may be the first municipality in the country to take such action. Whiting applauds Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. and his staff for such a bold response. Mayor Steve Spebar confirms that Whiting simply does not have the financial ability to follow suit. “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. We hope to help Mayor Spebar and our neighbors in Whiting determine the quickest way for their city to do the same,” said Mayor McDermott.
While representatives of both cities acknowledge that the health of its residents is of paramount importance, they are also cognizant of the adverse impact this designation could have on the property values within the Superfund area. Fortunately, neither City has been presented with any evidence of adverse health effects on our residents. The EPA has acknowledged that the process of testing, creating and approving a plan, and obtaining funding to do the clean-up will be a multi-year process and could take anywhere from seven (7) to twelve (12) years. The cities are committed to pressing the EPA to be expedient in its actions and to complete their clean-up as soon as possible.
We urge residents to respond to the opportunity to present comments and request not only a complete clean up of the Federated Metals site but also the surrounding industrial properties which were once part of the operation. In addition, the north basin of Lake George as well as any residential property which registers above a threshold of 400 mg/kg should be remediated per accepted protocols. The link to the Federal Register posting can be found at Federal Register :: National Priorities List. The EPA will accept comments on this proposal until May 30, 2023.
Mayor Steve Spebar comments as follows: “The City of Whiting acknowledges that the Superfund Designation is moving forward. I want to make it clear to our residents that this Designation means the EPA will be in complete control of the process moving forward and this process will be a lengthy one. Additional testing must be done to determine the firm boundaries of the Superfund site. Once the Designation is formally approved by the EPA, the remediation process will begin to unfold. I urge our residents to comply when the EPA requires properties be tested. The City of Whiting understands the need for remediation and requests that the process be initiated and completed as quickly as possible.”
Mayor McDermott commented: “The City of Hammond will continue to assist its residents to ensure their properties are remediated. We are committed to working with state and federal officials, but also will continue its work while the federal process plays out. We will also work with the City of Whiting to look for other sources of funds available to assist with the remediation in both cities. I know that Mayor Spebar, just as I do, wants to find solutions to this problem as quickly as possible for our residents.”
For more information or questions, please contact:
Hammond: 219-853-6302 or Stahuraa@gohammond.com
Whiting: 219-659-7700 or DSejna@whitingindiana.com