Environmental Protection Agency employees in Chicago are asking Administrator Scott Pruitt to take the time to meet with them on Wednesday after he visits a nearby Superfund site across the border in northwest in where the federal agency is working to address widespread lead contamination.
An EPA employees union criticized Pruitt for the proposed cuts, saying they would threaten public health.
EPA began a cleanup previous year of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil in the Superfund site, which includes the entire Calumet neighborhood. Another 3,000 residents living in Zone 2 and 3 of the superfund site were not told to relocate.
Pruitt did not address the report of the possible office closure or how drastic budget cuts would impact the EPA's operations. "We want to show him how these vulnerable populations have a received a high concentration of these contaminants from what I would call environmentally criminal industries". These and other EPA cuts have ramifications not just for East Chicago, but for polluted communities nationwide.
"In fact, it was my bipartisan legislation that would help make important reforms".
Chanting crowds weaved through streets of East Chicago on Wednesday near a Superfund site.
The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had already asserted that two EPA regional offices would be closed by June 15 as part of the Trump administration's proposed 2017 budget.
According to the EPA release, which contained multiple statements from coal companies that will be benefiting from the new easements on environmental regulations, the "new direction" for the agency (a contradiction that employees and the public alike find confusing) will be focused on transferring responsibility for environmental to state and local partners.
"We can't drink the waters". Thirteen other families are appealing their relocation offers from the city housing authority or have been given notice to move.
Forty-four-year-old Demetra Turner says finding a solution is the fight of her life.
"We're trying to raise a stink about this, that this is not an advisable cut for them to consider", Upton said.
Associated Press writer Tom Davies in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
Earlier Wednesday, Pruitt and Holcomb took a driving tour of the contaminated neighborhood.
Scott Pruitt is touring a housing complex in East Chicago, Indiana where 1,000 people have been ordered to evacuate because of lead and arsenic in the ground.
Residents of the complex and environmental activists protested ahead of his visit.
Resident Demetra Turner, 44, who left Chicago a decade ago for public housing in IN, said she was trying to find safe housing for the two children who live with her.