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Fact Sheet

May 2009


EPA Signs Final Record of Decision, Omaha Lead Superfund Site, Omaha, Nebraska

INTRODUCTION

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has signed the Final Record of Decision (ROD) for the Omaha Lead Superfund Site (Site). This final cleanup plan addresses the thousands of residential yards in eastern Omaha that were contaminated over a period of decades by airborne lead emissions from the former ASARCO lead refinery.  

In meeting this historic milestone, EPA has partnered with health agencies, community organizations, schools, medical groups, state and local elected officials, and the public at large for more than ten (10) years to promote health education and respond to serious health issues associated with industrial lead contamination in Omaha.

In an effort to elicit public comments on EPA's Proposed Plan (the document that defines EPA's cleanup options and its preferred remedy) for this Site, a 30-day public comment period was announced in October 2008 and was extended twice (for a total of 75 days) to January 15, 2009. Two (2) public meetings were held on November 18, 2008 (one in North Omaha and one in South Omaha) to take comments, as well.

Following the public comment period, EPA, in consultation with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), selected a remedy after reviewing and evaluating all comments and information submitted about the Proposed Plan.

BACKGROUND

The Omaha Lead Site includes child-care facilities, residences, and other residential-type properties in eastern Omaha with lead-contaminated surface soils resulting from past industrial emissions. The total area of the final focus area, where soil sampling is being completed is approximately 27 square miles and includes more than 40,000 properties. The final focus area includes a portion of the area bounded by Read Street on the north, 56th Street on the west, Harrison Street on the south, and the Missouri River on the east.

In 1999, EPA began excavating and replacing soils at child-care facilities and residential properties in eastern Omaha that were contaminated with lead through airborne emissions from historic lead smelting and refining operations in the area. In December 2004, EPA issued an Interim ROD that provided for excavation and soil replacement at an estimated 5,600 of the most highly-contaminated properties in eastern Omaha, while additional studies were performed to support a final remedy for the remaining properties. These studies concluded that lead-contaminated soil exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm) in residential yards at the Site poses an unacceptable risk to children's health. Approximately 10,000 residential yards at this Site have soil lead concentrations exceeding 400 ppm that were not cleaned up under the Interim ROD.  The Interim ROD also expanded the scope of the cleanup to address deteriorating lead-based paint that threatens the continued effectiveness of the soil cleanup.

REMEDY SELECTED

EPA's selected remedy is the second option described in the Omaha Lead Site Proposed Plan. It includes excavation and replacement of yard soils exceeding 400 ppm at the 10,000 remaining properties. The estimated cost of this alternative is $237million. Excavation and soil replacement are measures currently being implemented in Omaha under the Interim ROD, and represent a well-demonstrated alternative. The final remedy includes stabilization of exterior lead-based paint in cases where the continued effectiveness of the soil remedy is threatened, as well as a provision for providing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) household vacuums to residences where interior dust levels exceed allowable levels. Only those properties where soil cleanups are performed will be eligible for exterior lead-based paint stabilization or HEPA vacuums. The alternative also includes public education about health hazards in the community and the operation of a local lead registry, which will serve as an information repository that records and updates conditions at individual properties.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The ROD and other site-related documents for the Omaha Lead Site can be viewed online by visiting EPA's website at the following link:

http://www.epa.gov/region07/cleanup/npl_files/index.htm

The site-related documents are also available for review during regular business hours at the following locations:

EPA's Public Information Center (North)
3040 Lake Street
Omaha, Neb. (hard copy & electronically)
(402) 991-9583

EPA's Public Information Center (South)
4911 South 25th Street
Omaha, Neb. (hard copy & electronically)
(402) 731-3045

EPA Region 7 Records Center
901 North 5th Street
Kansas City, Kan. (hard copy & electronically)
1-800-223-0425

Omaha Public Library
W. Dale Clark Main Library
215 South 15th Street      
Omaha, Neb. (electronically)
(402) 444-4800

Washington Branch Library
2816 Ames Avenue
Omaha, Neb. (electronically)
(402) 444-4849

South Omaha Public Library
2202 M. Street
Omaha, Neb. (electronically)
(402) 444-4850

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

Debbie Kring - Office of Public Affairs
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 North 5th Street
Kansas City, Kan. 66101
Toll Free: 1-800-223-0425 or E-mail: kring.debbie@epa.gov


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