Mayor Thomas M, McDermott Jr. announced that the City of Hammond has completed the initial phase of an ongoing lead remediation project in the Robertsdale section of Hammond. The project, which is being funded with $5M of American Rescue Plan funds received by the city of Hammond may be the first of its kind in the state. “We wanted to be proactive on this issue and give immediate relief to residents whose home values may have been impacted by the lead in the soil,” said Mayor McDermott.
The lead was caused by decades of lead smelting operations in the 20th century by now shuttered Federated Metals Corporation, which abandoned the facility in the early 1990’s before clean up could be completed. In 2018, Mayor McDermott provided funding to purchase an X-ray Fluorescence Analyzer (XRF) to better pinpoint the contamination and lay out the scope of the project. “It was important to see the size of this issue, and then figure out a way to address it,” said the mayor. “Hammond is lucky to have an environmental department that can help give a local perspective to these issues and Ron Novak and his staff were very helpful to our residents in that regard.”
The EPA took emergency removal action on a few properties that had higher levels of lead contamination, but for the nearly 100 properties that had lower levels, the solution would have been at least 5-7 years away and with a potential declaration of an EPA Superfund site.
“Rather than wait a number of years for action by the EPA of IDEM, we took the initiative to move the remediation effort forward”, stated Mayor McDermott. “This is the responsible thing to do for our children, community, and for our environment–to ensure a clean and safe place for these families to live and to ensure that their property still has good value.”
The 2021 remediation project started on September 20, 2021. Initially 12 properties have been remediated in the first phase of the clean-up. There is a total of six phases need to be completed. It is estimated that within the next 2-3 years all phases will be completed, amounting to nearly 100 properties.