Feb 13, 12:45 PM EST

Judge denies East Chicago residents say in cleanup plans


EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) -- A federal judge has denied a bid by East Chicago residents to intervene in court proceedings for the cleanup of lead and arsenic in their neighborhood.

Judge Philip Simon ruled last week against a request from residents to intervene between the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and companies held responsible for the pollution at the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site, the Post-Tribune reported.

The ruling agreed with a prior opinion from a magistrate judge who ruled the residents' request came too late in the process.

"While I am sympathetic to the concerns of the citizens who seek better action from their government, and particularly from the EPA, ultimately, I agree with Judge (Paul) Cherry," Simon wrote. "Intervention in a case that has been closed for two years, and where there are settled expectations by the parties, strikes me as a dubious proposition."

Attorneys for the residents said the Simon should've considered the element of timeliness in the context of the history of the site, where it took decades to stop companies from polluting the neighborhood.

"The applicants are understandably frustrated with the slow pace at which the cleanup process has occurred. The government has known about these risks for a long, long time," Simon wrote. "But the government and the defendants have been in agreement on the remedy for over three years at this point."

Residents and advocacy organizations filed to get intervener status in 2016. The residents argued that recent developments at the site and changes to the remediation plans should allow them to have a role in court proceedings.

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Information from: Post-Tribune, http://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/

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