by: Manuel Bojorquez Updated:
ATLANTA - Some neighborhoods could soon be tested for toxic lead residue after soil samples from a now-defunct factory in northeast Atlanta showed potentially unsafe concentrations of lead.
A cement factory is now on the site but is not part of lead problem the EPA looked at. The issue goes back decades to when a factory that processed lead operated on the site.
"Usually, there's not a concern is there anything dangerous in the soil," said Rich Sussman, who lives less than a mile away from the site in the Lindridge Martin Manor neighborhood, off Cheshire Bridge Road.
An avid gardener, Sussman has never tested for anything other than the nutrients needed to make his tomatoes and radishes grow.
"Whether there was lead in the air or got in the water and affected neighbors, we don't know, so let the experts find out," he said, as he worked in his garden.
He's not too concerned right now, because over the years he's brought in new soil, compost and manure to help his vegetables grow.
Channel 2 Action News obtained an EPA report about the site, which concluded that further assessment is needed in the area because of concerns over "the surface water pathway" and "potential for air deposition." In other words, the lead may have spread by water or air.
The agency has not yet tested outside the site, and is still developing a plan for sampling and determining which areas would need testing.
"EPA is committed to re-evaluating any sites where new information suggests that there may be a public health issue of concern and to protect Americans from exposure to dangerous levels of lead," said James Pickney of the EPA Region 4, in an e-mail.
He said if sampling needs to happen on private property, the EPA will notify residents and request access.