EAST CHICAGO, Ind. — State and federal officials have agreed to consider a new option for disposing of contaminated sediment dredged from a northwestern Indiana waterway.

East Chicago residents and environmentalists object to a permit sought by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow 60,000 cubic yards of tainted sediments removed from the Indiana Harbor Canal to be placed in an open-air disposal site.

Opponents worry that disposal method could increase the risks of toxic chemicals becoming airborne less than a mile from two schools.

The Post-Tribune reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana environmental officials have decided to delay granting the permit while they investigate an alternative off-site disposal method.

The Rev. Cheryl Rivera leads a local group’s opposition to the permit. She says the group is now “cautiously optimistic.”

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