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Indiana Lawmaker: East Chicago Lead Problem Mirrors Flint Crisis

(CBS) -- They live on land with so much lead the Environmental Protection Agency has declared it too dangerous.

And Saturday, hundreds of residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex showed up to a meeting in East Chicago, Ind. to find out what happens next.

CBS 2's Pam Zekman was there for the emotional meeting.

It was a meeting called by Indiana State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, to let residents hear from a panel of experts on what happens next, now that more than a 1,000 residents have learned about the dangerous lead levels in their community.

"I think it reaches the level -- in my opinion at this time -- of what occurred in Flint, Mich, with the water crisis. They had a water crisis there, looks like we might have a land crisis here," the lawmaker tells Zekman.

Residents wanted to know if they have to pay rent while they are waiting for assistance to move.

"Federal law says you have to keep paying rent. It  unfair. It is immoral but it is the law," attorney Kate Walz says.

Church leaders say that's unfair because regulators have long known about the hazards putting children at risk.

Bishop Tavis Grant of Greater First Baptist Church says he knows of 25 families with children or minors who have tested positive for lead.

Residents also learned the EPA will test 200 more homes in another area of the complex that  apparently sits on the same toxic Superfund site designated for a cleanup decades  ago.

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