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EPA aims to clean up lead-tainted soil

The Environmental Protection Agency is hoping NL Industries will agree to clean up lead-contaminated soil from additional properties in Depew.

If the company does not, the government will look into excavating the dirt.

"That dialogue is still ongoing," said Michael Basile, a spokesman for the EPA.

NL Industries, which owned a brass foundry at 3241 Walden Ave. for 80 years, signed a consent order two years ago with the EPA to remove the contaminated soil from residential yards on the west side of Transit Road.

The former foundry already has paid more than $1 million to clean up those 35 properties, which are north of Walden Avenue. Excavation work on those lots was completed last fall, Basile said.

While the work was being completed, soil on the east side of Transit was tested for lead contamination, and some areas were found to be above the acceptable level of 400 parts per million.

"There's a prevailing southwesterly wind," said Dan Beutler, who lives on Tyler Street, east of Transit Road.

Over the years, smelting operations had been carried out and metal alloys were processed at the foundry on the 7.5-acre site. It is believed contaminated dust was blown across Walden Avenue for years and deposited into yards.

Beutler said soil in his yard showed 2,800 parts per million of lead -- seven times the acceptable level. He asked village officials this week about the cleanup of the additional properties.

"How long do we wait now? Another two years?" he said.

Basile said the EPA has notified NL Industries about its environmental responsibilities and liabilities toward cleaning up the contaminated soil, and is waiting for the company to agree to the additional cleanup.

If it does not perform the cleanup, the EPA will evaluate the area and its own resources with the aim toward removing the contaminated soil, Basile said.


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