BREAKING NEWS: EPA to begin digging up dangerous lead contamination in soil around New Jersey homes after USA TODAY investigation
From USA TODAY:
The Environmental Protection Agency will begin digging up dangerous lead contamination this month around a dozen homes in New Jersey, part of one of the largest state efforts yet to re-examine health risks posed by soil near hundreds of old factory locations identified by a USA TODAY investigation.
Regulators in at least 13 other states have been conducting investigations as a result of the newspaper’s “Ghost Factories” series, which revealed the EPA and state agencies had done little over 10 years to examine the toxic fallout left behind by many old lead factories that operated mostly in the 1930s-1960s .
“Soil samples taken in early 2010 by the EPA found lead levels far in excess of the industrial standards of 800 parts per million (ppm). In one case, an analysis of white powder taken from the wall of a container storage area found lead concentrations of 5,610 ppm. Soil contamination is an ongoing issue with facility reports showing several areas with contaminated soil above 1000 ppm as far back as 1993.
No action appears to have been taken to remediate the contaminated soil. Even more surprising, Exide stopped monitoring potential soil contamination. The EPA report states “…from approximately 1993 until 2001, the facility collected soil samples annually from the perimeter of the property to follow trends of lead deposition. The sampling stopped when Exide filed for bankruptcy in 2001.”
It’s unknown whether the soil contamination has impacted the aquifer. Exide stopped monitoring groundwater in 2002 because it was not a requirement of Exide’s permit from TCEQ.
Perhaps the most alarming tidbit within the EPA report concerns potential contamination throughout Frisco. Exide’s Environmental Manager relayed to EPA inspectors that before the 1980′s regulations “… the City used battery casings from the plant as road base throughout the city.”
While actively monitoring air quality, TCEQ failed to assess potential contamination of groundwater, storm water or soil from the plant. The revelation that battery casings were used in some Frisco roadbeds expands the potential lead contamination to soil and water beyond Exide’s fence line.
The proposed agreed order would undoubtedly reduce future lead air emissions, but it will not fully address community exposure to lead and other battery recycling pollutants. A comprehensive examination and plan to remediate contaminated soil and water is critical for reducing overall community risk.
A full copy of EPA Region 6 multi-media inspection of Exide Technologies is available online on the community group Lead Free Frisco’s website at leadfreefrisco.com.”