EPA finds more lead contamination in northwestern Indiana

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has discovered more lead contamination in northwestern Indiana.

Soil samples collected since October have revealed more than two dozen contaminated yards in Hammond and Whiting, The Chicago Tribune reported .

Tests found 25 yards with soil lead levels exceeding the federal cleanup standard of 400 parts per million. One home's soil tested as high as 2,760 parts per million of lead.

The EPA has set aside $1.7 million in taxpayer funds to remove contaminated soil around 20 homes where there are young children or pregnant women. Officials expect to find more contaminated homes as the investigation expands. The agency is waiting for results from additional tests conducted last month.

"With our sustained cooperation and teamwork - and Administrator (Gary) Pruitt's personal attention - very soon impacted families in Hammond and Whiting will no longer face an unacceptable threat from lead-contaminated soil in their own backyards," said Cathy Stepp, the EPA's regional administrator.

The neighborhoods are located near the former Federated Metals property, an abandoned smelter that put lead, arsenic and other heavy metals in the air from 1937 to 1983. Some hazardous waste dumped on the property wasn't removed until the mid-2000s.

Other lead-processing companies have operated at the site since Federated Metals closed.

About 10,000 people live within a mile of the site.

The EPA is also working to clean up lead contamination at a Superfund site in nearby East Chicago, where more than 1,000 low-income residents were forced to evacuate a housing complex last year.