Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proposing a multi-million dollar plan to clean up yards on Chattanooga's Southside that are contaminated with lead.

The Southside lead site is made up of about eight neighborhoods.

"I mean it could be high, it could be low,” Norman Maree said about his yard, “We don't know yet until they test it and tell us about it."

Norman and Henretta Maree live in Alton Park. They are still waiting for the soil in their yard to be tested.

They came to Thursday’s meeting to learn more about how the EPA plans to fix the problem.

The proposed plan is to dig up two feet of soil on contaminated properties, move it to a landfill, and then fill in properties with new dirt.

The Maree's think it's worth it and said, "I'm okay with it as long as they do it right. Other than that I don't see no problem with it."

About 400 properties have already been tested, and there are 3,600 more to go. Most of the properties are homes which is why EPA officials are trying to move quickly. 

"Realizing that we have young kids who are in that community that could potentially be exposed, not potentially, that are exposed to that material as we speak," said Project manager Robenson Joseph.

The project could take anywhere from 3 to 5 years, and actual excavation would not start until late spring or early summer.

Dawn Ford is a professor at UTC. She does not live in any of the affected neighborhoods, but has a public health background and studies lead poisoning.

She believes excavating contaminated land is necessary, "It's absolutely the thing to do. You'll notice they proposed two options: do nothing or excavate the yards, and so that's what needs to happen."

Officials estimate the project would cost roughly $26 million.   

There is a comment period until the end of November where community members can send questions and concerns to EPA officials. Written comments can be emailed by clicking here.

The EPA has a website that allows the public to keep track of the progress.

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