Chattanooga property owners attend public meeting regarding Southside Chattanooga Lead Site

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) –  Robernetta Thompson owns property in the Richmond area, and she, like others, got a letter asking to test her soil for lead.

So she agreed.

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“So they came, took the sample and maybe about four months later I got a letter that identified my yard as being hazardous, above the level that they wanted it to be,” Thompson said.

Thompson is one of several Chattanooga property owners at this meeting hoping to further understand what’s going on with the soil in their yard and how the U-S Environmental Protection Agency is combating contamination.

“I was named as one of the locations and I guess I represent a wide swath of other people obviously who are in the same situation as I am,” Chattanooga property owner Edmond Nowicki said.

Last month, the EPA proposed to put the Southside Chattanooga Lead Site on the National Priorities List.

Environmental Scientist Cathy Amoroso said being on the list gives EPA the authority and resources to complete the investigation into the soil and do a comprehensive clean up.

First they’re gathering public comments that they’ll consider and make a final decision about adding the site to the list which can take six to 12 months.

Environmental Scientist Cathy Amoroso:
“Once the site is added to the national priorities list, we’ll be able to start a comprehensive clean up. In the meantime we will be continuing to test yards and we will be continuing to excavate those yards that have the very highest levels of lead,” Amoroso said.

In 2012 and 2013 the EPA dug out soil in 84 lead contaminated yards.

They’ve tested hundreds of yards and currently about 75 appear to need clean-up.

“Residential yards where people live and that children could come in contact with the material. If there is 1200 micrograms per kilogram of lead in the yard. Those leads are excavated in what’s called a time critical action. The rest of the properties we will clean up as soon as we’re able to get the site finalized on the national priorities list and get the resources to do that,” Amoroso said.

As for Thompson, she hopes that’s sooner than later as she says still waiting for her yard to be cleaned up.