Crews have been removing dirt with lead contamination from some South Chattanooga homes and replacing it with clean topsoil.
Troy Keith, an official of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said several yards have been completed on Read and Mitchell avenues. He said the lead levels are slightly higher than the 400 parts per million level at which there is some concern.
Mr. Keith said there should not be any health effects unless someone ingests dirt from the yards over an extended period. He said a child playing in the dirt would be most apt to do so.
He said the examination started in South Chattanooga and has been extended to Missionary Ridge and south to the Georgia line.
EPA started remediation of contaminated yards during the week of Sept. 24. Currently, three residences have been completed and work on two yards started last week. The tentative schedule for the remaining yard cleanups is currently being established. Residents will be notified before cleanup of their yard is expected.
In 2011 the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) received a request from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) to help determine the origin of a lead exposure to a resident in the Southside community. TDEC subsequently contacted EPA Removal for assistance in characterizing the area around the residence. EPA conducted a large-scale assessment of 82 properties in the area and found that 52 properties had various degrees of contamination. In March of 2011, EPA, TDEC and TDH began inspection of the area around the residence. Although the origin of the resident’s lead exposure could not be determined, subsequent investigations by EPA and TDEC through 2011 and 2012 revealed soil concentrations of lead in excess of federal cleanup levels at numerous locations in the Southside neighborhood. EPA and TDEC also evaluated much of south and east Chattanooga and determined the elevated lead in soils appears to be limited to the Southside area. The exact source of lead in the soils remains unknown.
EPA will continue to keep the affected community informed of activities as they progress. The EPA has opened a community outreach center to host informal meetings and to provide a daily point of contact for residents with questions. The location of the field office is at 27 W. Main St.
There is also a toll-free number to call and receive information or ask questions. The toll-free phone number is 1-877-718-3752, ext. 28463.