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Lead removal at home sites is half done

Toxic lead buried on residential properties near a century-old Depew foundry has been removed from about half the homes affected, a federal environmental official said Friday.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Michael J. Basile said contaminated soil has been cleaned up from 17 out of the 35 properties where lead levels exceeded four times the acceptable federal limits. The properties are mainly to the northeast of the old NL Industries plant at 3241 Walden Ave., formerly the site of a brass foundry.

He said the work probably will last through the fall.

"They've been excavating the contaminated soil and replacing it, as well as addressing some reforestation issues, replacing shrubs and trees where necessary," he added.

Last November, the New Jersey-based NL Industries signed a consent order issued by the EPA and agreed to pay between $1.2 million to $1.5 million to remove lead-contaminated soil in nearby residential yards.

The cleanup started in June and is being done one home at a time. It has included residential properties on Tyler, Rumford, Brewster and Lincoln streets, as well as some affected properties that were later identified east of Transit Road, said Town Clerk/Administrator Robert Kucewicz.

The cleanup "has been a long time coming, and right now it seems to be going well," said Kuciewicz, who added that the village receives bimonthly progress reports on the cleanup from NL Industries.

Basile on Friday said no date has been set for project completion because of weather concerns and other factors.

Once the soil cleanup is over, the EPA will offer residents of the affected area an opportunity to have the interior living spaces of their homes sampled for lead to determine if indoor cleanup is necessary.

When NL Industries first sampled soil on nearby residential properties five years ago, tests showed lead levels as high as 5,300 parts per million. That's more than four times what is allowed by federal law.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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