They called for reassurance of a thorough cleanup, additional testing and long-term support of residents.
The northwest IN city is now part of a superfund clean-up site after last year's discovery, which forced residents to evacuate and leave their homes.
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, sent a letter announcing his decision to a coalition of energy companies that lobbied against the 2015 water pollution regulations.
Really, Scott Pruitt? Western Pennsylvanians know enough to recognize when you are blowing (coal) dust when you declare that "the war on coal is done" ("EPA's Pruitt Says He'll Be a Friend to Coal", April 14). In a memo to agency officials, Mike Flynn, the EPA's acting deputy administrator, said the goal was to complete the cutsby June. Rumors of the office's closure prompted the union and elected officials to hold a press conference Wednesday, speaking out against any cuts. Also, Trump has proposed cutting the EPA's budget by 31 percent, nearly one-third, and eliminating more than 3,200 jobs, about 20 percent of the agency's workforce of 15,000.
"EPA is focusing on getting results by improving environmental conditions and human health in places like East Chicago", EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in a statement.
Troy Hernandez, a member of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, said the group has worked closely with Region 5's environmental justice program to ensure vital clean ups.
"African Americans serve as the canaries in the mine, yet today we are seeing that those mines exist in our communities where toxic poisons are ignored, only because they have yet to reach the rest of America", NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said in a statement issued Tuesday.
On Saturday, Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed quoted an unnamed city source saying the Chicago office could be consolidated with an EPA regional office in Kansas.
The labor union representing Environmental Protection Agency workers at a regional office reportedly on the chopping block are asking for a meeting with the agency's administrator this week.
Local residents and activists questioned Pruitt's motives. "The fact that he came here to tour the superfund site, that means a lot", Lopez said.
During a news briefing in East Chicago, where he was flanked by several officials, including Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland (D), Pruitt emphasized that local, state and federal officials are coming to together to address the contamination issue in the city.
Meanwhile, representatives from various community organizations made their way inside Carrie Gosch Elementary School - closed to students last summer amid fears of lead contamination - to take residents' concerns to a delegation of state and federal officials.
The housing complex was built over land that had been used by lead and copper smelting companies for almost a century before being shut down in the early 50s.