EPA continues efforts to remove lead, arsenic from Evansville homes

Local News

Lead from historic industrial operations continues to linger in Evansville to this day. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency has been working for nearly ten years to get rid of it. 

Monday night officials gave an update to their progress. 

The lead and arsenic contamination was first found in the early 2000’s in the Jacobsville neighborhood. Clean up started in 2010 but officials soon realized it spread farther than what was originally expected. 

“We found lead in the soils probably from air dispersion dating back to the Civil War,” said remedial project manager Jena Sleboda.

Originally beginning in Jacobsville, officials now believe the contaminated area covers four and a half square miles and about four thousand residential properties that require clean up. 

The lead is believed to have come from airborne dust, soot and smoke from historic industrial operations. 

“As we sampled lawns across the street, we found high levels so we kept sampling outwards,” said Sleboda. 

To clean the lead contractors are testing soil around homes. If positive, they then remove and replace it. 

This year they’re working on cleaning up the historic district near Riverside Drive. 

“We want to make sure we get that soil out and protect children and get clean soil in and sodded,” Sleboda. 

While the contaminated areas pose no threat to adults, the Vanderburgh County Health Department urges parents with children under six to come in for a free health screening. 

“If it’s elevated then we can assist them with nutritional info, housing cleaning info,” said Chris Borowiecki with the health department. 

“People are happy with the work were doing, their properties are being restored to how they like it,” said Sleboda.

The EPA works to clean soil in up to 500 homes per year. Officials say if they stay at this rate
they should be done in five years. 

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(This story was originally published on June 17, 2019)

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