Durbin, Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi Lead Illinois Colleagues In Inquiry To Federal Agencies On Potential Risks Of Toxic Lead-Sheathed Telecommunications Cables

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, along with U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), led nine members of the Illinois Congressional delegation in requesting information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the General Services Administration (GSA) regarding their knowledge of the lead-sheathed cables and next steps, such as the agencies’ coordination and cooperation to address a potentially urgent public health concern.  The letter follows a recent Wall Street Journalinvestigative report that identified more than 2,000 lead-covered cables across the nation that may be contributing to dangerously-high levels of toxic lead exposure across the country. 

“In Illinois, the persistent presence of lead is a public health disaster that has plagued our communities fordecades.  According to samples collected from our state’s 1,768 water utilities, more than eight of every ten Illinoisan lives in a community where toxic metal is found in the tap water… The discovery of these lead cables as another potential source of lead exposure may help explain the persistently high rates throughout our state,” the lawmakers wrote to EPA, FCC, and GSA. 

Setting a 30-day deadline, the lawmakers requested additional information about the presence of lead-sheathed cables in Illinois, as well as how the agencies plan to work together to create a remediation plan to protect Illinoisans from further harm.

Joining Durbin, Duckworth, and Krishnamoorthi on the letters were U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski (D-IL-13), Sean Casten (D-IL-06), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-04), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL-01), Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03), Eric Sorensen (D-IL-17), and Mike Quigley (D-IL-05).

In August, Durbin sent a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) urging the agency to take further steps to address the problem of lead poisoning in federally assisted housing.  In March 2021, Durbin and Duckworth sent a letter to EPA urging it to update the Lead and Copper Rule. 

Last Congress, Durbin introduced bipartisan legislation, theLead-Safe Housing for Kids Act, which would require HUD to adopt prevention measures and update its lead regulations to ensure that families and children living in federally assisted housing are protected from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning.


Click here to read the letter to the EPA.

Click here to read the letter to the FCC.

Click here to read the letter to the GSA.