CHICAGO, OCT 9, 2017 -- Under a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Heritage Environmental Services LLC has agreed to install energy efficient, PCB-free lighting and new drinking water fountains with lead-filtering systems at the Carrie Gosch Pre-K Early Learning Center and the Joseph L. Block Middle School in East Chicago, Ind. The upgrades -- which cost a total of more than $290,000 -- are scheduled to begin this month and to be completed by early 2018.
"EPA is pleased that East Chicago children will reap health benefits at their schools thanks to this innovative legal settlement," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These upgrades will reduce students' potential exposure to toxins."
"The city of East Chicago is grateful to be the recipient of funds made available by the EPA to help improve some of our schools' lights," said East Chicago Schools Superintendent Dr. Paige McNulty. "The EPA has been very helpful in analyzing our schools' needs and making a plan on how to replace the lights as needed. They have worked with school district personnel to ensure that it is not disruptive to our school day. We are hoping to have this project completed by January."
Following a July 2012 inspection, EPA alleged multiple hazardous waste violations at the Heritage Environmental facility in Indianapolis. Today's settlement requires the company to improve waste handling procedures, pay a $77,385 civil penalty, and perform the lighting and drinking water upgrades at the two East Chicago schools. The company has also applied to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for a major modification to its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit. IDEM's proposed RCRA permit incorporates improved testing methodology for better waste analysis.