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Joplin remediation funds decreasing - KOAM TV 7

Joplin remediation funds decreasing

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Funds to remediation parts of Joplin that are contaminated with lead are decreasing.  The City of Joplin requires homeowners who are rebuilding after the tornado to first have soil on their property tested for high levels of lead.  These tests are done by Jasper County officials.  If remediation is needed, it costs a homeowner about $12,000 a yard.

A map from the Jasper County Health Department shows blue dots, indicating where soil has been tested since the tornado for high levels of lead, but has been found safe.  Red dots illustrate where high levels of lead have been confirmed.

Remediation crews were seen at one home on Ohio Avenue on Wednesday.  "I know that this woman who lives here is a foster parent," says Leslie Heitkamp, who is with the city's remediation team.

High levels of lead can be found in chat, which is waste left over from mining years ago.  The high levels are also being found in raw pieces of lead ore.

"Sometimes, it wasn't so much the wind of the tornado, but it was the destruction caused by the tornado," says Dan Pekarek with Joplin's health department.  "Houses are destroyed, you're out there with bulldozers cleaning mess up, and it's exposing the dirt."

I would anticipate that there would have been some properties that, when the people were rebuilding their home, their insurance just didn't cover putting a new yard in," says Pekarek.

So the Environmental Protection Agency is covering the cost by awarding money to city officials with Joplin, who then distribute the money to homeowners.

The EPA has given $3.5 million so far, and city officials say only about $1 million of that money is left.  444 properties of the more than 1,000 properties tested have needed remediation.

"We knew there's going to be additional residential reconstruction next spring and next summer and the next construction season.  But we don't know how much," says Pekarek.

Money is distributed to homeowners once they apply for a building permit, the soil is tested, and remediation is needed.

"We don't go in and just clean up bare lots.  It doesn't make any sense to do that, because you come in a year later, two years later, three years later, and then dig it all up for foundations; well, then you just disturbed what we just cleaned up," says Pekarek.

City officials will soon ask the EPA for more money.

In the meantime, work being done now to benefit future generations is not expected to be hampered.

Health officials say removing lead is important, based on recent studies.  But how did lead pose a threat to people years ago?  Click the associated video to see how lead contamination is mentioned in history.

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