Contaminated soil clean up underway at local park
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Crews have started cleaning up layers of contaminated soil at a popular South Florida park.
After months of testing and discussion, work is underway to remove toxic soil from one City of Miami park, Tuesday.
Natasia De Lamar takes her dogs and two nieces to Blanche Park. "When I first saw it, I actually saw it on Channel 7, and I kind of freaked out," said De Lamar.
Back in August, when the news first came out about arsenic and lead discovered in the soil at Blanche Park and at other Miami Parks, De Lamar stopped going to the park. "When I kind of got myself a little more informed, I kind of wasn't as worried cause, as you can see, they are doing something," said De Lamar.
Toxic ash was dumped at Blanche Park and several other parks back in the 1960s from old incinerators. Crews have been hired by the City of Miami to start digging up the first batch of contaminated soil from city parks. Blanche Park is the first one on the list.
Workers are digging several feet down, capping off a hole with black fabric and filling it in with new rock, soil and sod.
Dog Owner Jorge Icavalceta is happy the city is getting to work. "As you can tell, they are working out here constantly now, so as long as you get the problem solved, I don't see a problem with it now," said Icavalceta.
For the most part, Blanche Park has remained opened throughout testing. The Department of Environmental Research Management (DERM) has deemed the park safe. The toxic soil was found in the park's perimeter. "We have the parking lot area covered with asphalt. We have the park itself covered with artificial turf, and any other exposed soil does not present any harmful levels," said Assistant city manager Alice Bravo.
The city started sampling the soil and tested all city parks back in August after toxic ash was found at a nearby construction site.
Last Thursday, DERM issued an order to remove and contain all contaminated soil found at several parks. Merrie Christmas Park has been fenced off and a cleanup is set to begin as soon as the city develops a plan of action. "That will probably involve soil removal and placing new clean fill there, so that park can be opened up again," said Bravo.
City officials said random sampling and testing throughout city parks will continue until they determine that all the contaminated soil has been removed.
Blanche Park will remain closed for one more day as crews continue to work.
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