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EPA Deletes 101 Residential Properties from Omaha Lead Superfund Site

08/28/2018
Contact Information: 
Ben Washburn (washburn.ben@epa.gov)
913-551-7364

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Aug. 28, 2018) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has formally deleted 101 additional residential properties that were part of the Omaha Lead Superfund Site from the National Priorities List (NPL). This marks the 11th total or partial deletion from the NPL thus far in fiscal year 2018.

“Delisting these residential properties from the Omaha Lead Superfund Site is our final step toward revitalization of the land. With 1,500 properties delisted so far, the team of federal, state and local partners is making great progress,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “EPA, the state of Nebraska, the city of Omaha, and the Douglas County Health Department have worked tirelessly to clean up lead in Omaha. Protecting children from the dangers of lead exposure remains a top priority here in the Midwest, where historical lead mining and manufacturing have contaminated many communities.”

The site comprises residential properties, child-care centers, and other residential-type properties, where the surface soil is contaminated from lead smelting and refining operations. The site boundary encompasses 27 square miles and is centered on downtown Omaha, where two former lead-processing facilities operated.

EPA remediated more than 13,000 residential properties at the site between 1999 and 2015, in accordance with the Record of Decision (ROD). The city of Omaha and Douglas County Health Department are now leading the cleanup efforts for a few hundred remaining properties. EPA is funding the city and county cleanup efforts.

Background

The National Priorities List is a roster of the nation’s most contaminated sites that threaten human health or the environment. The sites on the list are eligible for cleanup under EPA’s Superfund program. EPA removes sites from the list, once all the remedies are successfully implemented and no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.

The Omaha Lead Superfund Site boundary encompasses more than 40,000 properties, with more than 13,000 that have required remediation for lead contamination that exceeded the health-based limit. Residential properties where soil sampling indicated that soil lead concentrations were above 400 parts per million (ppm) were included in the site for cleanup. Commercial and industrial properties are also excluded from the defined site.

The testing of soil, exterior lead-based paint, and interior dust are conducted at no cost to the property owner. If the soil needs to be cleaned up, the cleanup is also conducted at no cost to the property owner.

The cleanup action specified in the ROD includes excavation of soil exhibiting lead concentrations greater than 400 ppm; replacement of contaminated soil with clean backfill; placement of sod; stabilization of lead-based paint; testing of indoor dust; and public education and outreach to assist the public in recognizing other potential sources of lead contamination. Not all properties had lead-based paint stabilization or indoor dust testing.

Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects and is particularly dangerous for young children, because their nervous systems are still developing. Young children are at greatest risk from developing health effects from exposure to lead because they engage in the most hand-to-mouth activity.

From 2013 to 2016, approximately 200,000 children ages 1-5 in the U.S. had elevated blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. This is the reference level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels and who require case management.

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment. epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force.