Southside Chattanooga Lead Site needs federal funding for contam - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Southside Chattanooga Lead Site needs federal funding for contaminated soil

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Many homeowners in Southside are dealing with dangerous levels of lead in their soil. The area is now called Southside Chattanooga Lead Site, and it impacts hundreds of homes.

Tuesday night neighbors met with the EPA to discuss a plan to continue cleaning the hazardous soil.

The EPA is trying to get the site on the national priority list in order to get federal funding. The program cleans up hazardous waste sites and in this case that's neighborhoods.

"It's kind of scary to tell the truth," said neighbor Robernetta Thompson.

The contaminated area focuses on seven neighborhoods. Since 2011 officials have already excavated nearly 100 properties, those are the homes with the highest amount of lead, and nearly 300 samples of soil have been tested.

Like Thompson's yard. "They put about a hundred holes in my yard. They came out. They did a lot of digging," said Thompson, "Then I got a letter saying my yard was contaminated.”

More than 70 properties are still on a list to be cleaned up. Playgrounds in the area have also been tested.

READ MORE | Local pediatrician weighs in on dangers of lead to children

Neighbors said the threat of lead makes them nervous to let their kids play outside.

Young children are at a high risk for lead poisoning, so parents are urged to have their kids tested.

Lead poisoning could have long-term effects such as: learning and behavioral problems, hearing problems, and kidney damage.

"I want to live in a safe environment,” urged Thompson, “I've got a lot of grand-kids and kids playing in the yard. So that's my major concern."

The lead in the soil is from foundry operations in Chattanooga decades ago. In addition to the 7 neighborhoods other parts of Chattanooga could also be impacted.

"We will be looking at other areas as we progress in this investigation," said Cathy Amoroso, project team leader and environmental scientist.

Being on the national priorities list will help get the funding and resources needed to clean up the soil.

Right now officials are just proposing the site be added to the list, which could take 6 months to a year.

In the meantime officials will continue testing soil and cleaning what they can.

They urge anyone living in the area to fill out a public comment sheet. The public comment period ends April 18.

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