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Joplin tornado areas to get more EPA help - KOAM TV 7

Joplin tornado areas to get more EPA help for contamination clean up

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Joplin gets more help for its clean-up of some lead uncovered by last year's tornado.

City officials say Joplin would not be able to afford the testing and cleanup of properties now contaminated with lead, that originally came from mining years ago.

So the Environmental Protection Agency helped with what it calls a "down payment" last December, and today's announcement of more money comes with a promise of continued help.

"We found there were elevated soil lead levels in areas that hadn't been elevated in the past," says Dan Pekarek of the Joplin Health Department.

"In a sense, it was all encapsulated because it was the chat, and mine waste, but it was under the old houses that were built in the 20's and 30's and 40's," says Leslie Heitkamp, Joplin's remediation coordinator.

Heitkamp showed us a property that's recently been resoiled.

"Ended up taking 18 inches of dirt off his property and putting down a visible barrier in the entire yard before back filling it with a foot of fill, and six inches of top soil and then seeding and strawing the whole yard," says Heitkamp.

Many insurance plans don't cover lead testing or remediation.  But in December the EPA gave Joplin $500,000 for lead testing and remediation in tornado affected areas.  Since then 25 properties have been resoiled.

Another $2.4 million from the EPA is coming to Joplin to cover 200 more remediation projects.

But the EPA says there could be as many as 2,000 more properties that need testing and new soil.  They say it's going to be an ongoing, yearly project.

In the meantime, health officials say wash exposed skin regularly to avoid consumption of lead.

EPA officials also warn that areas patchy weeds but no grass could also be contaminated.

For more information contact Joplin remediation director Leslie Heitkamp at 417-624-0820 extension 544.

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