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U.S. EPA removes lead-contaminated soil near AMCO Chemical Superfund Site

Release Date: 07/26/2007
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415.947.4248,

(San Francisco, Calif. --07/26/2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began excavating small areas of lead-contaminated soil this week from seven Oakland, Calif. backyards abutting the AMCO Chemical Superfund Site.

The EPA began work on July 24 and expects the cleanup to take approximately three weeks. The agency will remove two to three feet of lead-contaminated soil -- about 10 truckloads -- and replace it with clean fill.

“Removing lead contaminated soil from these yards protects public health and allows residents to continue to use their yards without the risk of lead exposure,” said Harry Allen, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator. “Lead in soil poses a specific threat to children, and this action protects current and future residents who might use these yards.”

Over the last two years, the EPA sampled soil, groundwater and air to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the AMCO Chemical Superfund Site. The EPA also sampled soil from backyards of homes abutting the former AMCO facility, and found lead at high concentrations in a limited number of samples below the soil surface. Some levels are well above what would be considered safe for residential exposure, particularly for children.

The EPA interviewed residents in the planning process and based on their described use of the yards, determined that current exposure to the contaminated soil is limited. However, because of the elevated lead levels in their yards, the agency determined the contaminated soil needed to be removed to ensure that current and future residents are protected.

To make sure dust from contaminated soil does not spread or pose a threat to residents or workers, the soil is being wetted during excavation. The agency is also closely monitoring air quality during all excavation activities to ensure dust suppression techniques are effective.

Following excavation activities, areas that had high levels of lead will be resampled to ensure that all contaminated soils -- to a depth of three feet -- have been removed. The excavated soil will be sent to a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.

The EPA is using a blend of biodiesel fuel for excavation equipment to reduce diesel emissions during the cleanup.

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