The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 27, 2011

Lead contamination found in storm’s main path

JOPLIN, Mo. — Soil tests for lead and cadmium are now being required by the city of Joplin in the hardest-hit tornado-stricken area of the city when building permits are issued.

Some routine soil tests taken this summer in the main path of the storm have shown the presence of lead and cadmium higher than acceptable levels.

19 PROPERTIES

The city was notified Sept. 23 by the Jasper County Health Department that it had tested 43 pieces of property in the zone, and averages on 19 of the properties showed contamination beyond the accepted 400 parts per million. That is high enough to require that action be taken to remove or cover the contaminated soil.

Dan Pekarek, director of the Joplin Health Department, said the contamination was detected in voluntary soil tests that property owners were having the county perform as a safeguard. Lead and cadmium are shown to cause developmental disabilities in children who are regularly exposed, usually through playing outdoors.

Once the city was notified by the county of the test results, notices recommending that other property owners obtain the free tests before they rebuilt in the tornado zone were passed out with building permit materials, Pekarek said.

Based on the number of the tests that detected contamination, city administrators recommended that tests be required on properties where children likely would be, such as where houses or where day care operations are located. The City Council passed an ordinance requiring the tests at its meeting Oct. 17.

MINING LEGACY CITED

Pekarek said it is believed that the contamination came from Joplin’s mining past.

“It appears it was used in the early construction of homes,” he said. “Chat was pretty readily available around here, and they used it. It was used as fill for voids around footings and foundations, and to level out crawl spaces.

“The second thing that may have occurred to cause the contamination is there could have been some old chat areas in the middle of the city and they just covered it with soil, but that was exposed now because of the tornado damage.”

The 43 original testing sites are located in various sections of the storm path. They include the lots where the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project was conducted Oct. 19 through Wednesday to build seven houses on Connor Avenue between 24th and 26th streets.

Pekarek said that when those lots were being excavated for the foundations of the houses, the contamination must have been on the surface, because turning the soil reduced the tested levels. A new layer of soil also was applied to assure that there would be no direct exposure to lead dust.

David Hertzberg, Joplin’s public works director, said that the city has been issuing about 20 residential building permits a day, and that only one is being held until another test can be done to see if the levels have been reduced.

Hertzberg said that the amount of cleanup work that has to be done depends on how high a level the testing shows the contamination to be.

A fix could be as simple as placing a few inches of new soil on the top of a yard to digging out the soil as deep as 18 inches and replacing it, Hertzberg and Pekarek said.

Pekarek said the soil tests done by the county are free. Property owners can remove their own contaminated soil and take it to an authorized dump site for free disposal.

GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE

The city has filed a request for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency. The city sent a letter to the EPA saying that up to 1,500 properties could be contaminated and that it could cost up to $5,000 per property for a cleanup, or a total of $7.5 million.

Hertzberg said that amount is for a worst-case scenario where large amounts of contamination were found on many sites.

David Bryan, of the EPA’s Region 7 office in Kansas City, said, “We received the letter, and we have been in discussions with city officials and county officials.” To decide how much funding is needed, “it’s a matter of finding out what they project is the amount of work to be done and working out an agreement” between the various government entities. “We have done this before with the city, so a lot of people know how it works.”

The city may have based its estimate of contaminated sites on the percentages reflected in the results found in the voluntary testing, “but we don’t like to put a number to it because it’s what we find scientifically,” Bryan said. Testing determines how many properties could be affected, he said.

The EPA has worked in Joplin before, replacing or repairing yards in north Joplin where a former lead smelter spread contamination.

Pekarek said soil tests have been required in that area of the city since 2006.

Test

To request a soil test, residents may call the Jasper County Health Department at 417-358-3111.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Embezzler from Joplin car dealerships sent to prison

    A federal judge has sentenced Kathryn M. Stayton to 13 months in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from Frank Fletcher Ford and Credit Cars of Joplin. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays assessed the 36-year-old Joplin woman the prison term at a sentencing hearing this week in federal court in Springfield. The judge also ordered the former controller at both car dealerships to pay restitution totaling $121,249. 51.

    April 18, 2014

  • Screening of MSSU presidential applicants to wrap by end of April

    The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University could be in a position to name a president as early as the end of June, according to a timeline presented Friday by the co-chair of the presidential search committee.

    April 18, 2014

  • Teams from Carl Junction, Diamond advance in Destination Imagination

    Student teams from Carl Junction and Diamond will be traveling to Destination Imagination finals May 20-24 in Knoxville, Tenn., after being top finishers in competition this month at Missouri Southern State University.

    April 18, 2014

  • Neosho Dogwood Tour reset, after false start

    The 53rd annual Neosho Dogwood Tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27. The event, presented by the Neosho Rotary Club and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, originally was scheduled for Sunday, April 13.

    April 18, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Pittsburg Farmer's Market to open in new building, new location

    The official market season in Pittsburg, Kan., will kick off in the market’s new pavilion-style building at a new address, 11th and Broadway, on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Market hours will continue throughout the season on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, with some Wednesdays or other special days throughout the season as announced.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter