East Chicago, Indiana
Sherry Hunter grew up in the West Calumet Housing Complex and now owns a home in neighboring zone two. The EPA has classified three zones of concern related to the 79-acre superfund site where a USS Lead facility once stood.
Now an activist in the Calumet Lives Matter movement, Hunter said she's most concerned for senior citizens who are struggling to find new homes. "They don't know where to go. They weren't given an option," she said. "People should have a right to say what they want to do."
The West Calumet Housing Complex, which is currently home to about 1,200 people, is located on a 79-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site where a USS Lead facility was located in East Chicago, Indiana. Up until 1985, a lead refinery, a copper smelter and a secondary lead smelter were also in the area. The houses were built between the late 1960s and early 1970s.
East Chicago is zoned close to 80 percent heavy industrial, and the local government relies on the patronage, jobs and tax revenue that the oil and steel industries bring. However, many jobs disappeared when the steel industry modernized and shifted overseas in the late 20th century, leading to extensive job loss for the working class. People there have a long, complicated relationship with industry -- and its environmental legacy will affect generations to come.
Photo by Alyssa Schukar
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