By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LIBERTY TWP. - The interiors of two Lexington Manor homes will be tested for lead dust before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completes its cleanup at the lead-contaminated site.
At a U.S. EPA public meeting Wednesday, a consultant for Ryland Homes said the houses on Palomino Lane, in the center of Greater Cincinnati's largest residential lead contamination site, will be tested in August after 25,000 tons of affected soil is removed.
"We've not seen any lead issues in the air throughout the entire process so far, so we're not anticipating any problems," says David Click, senior project manager for Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., hired by Ryland to oversee the cleanup.
Less than a dozen area residents attended the meeting during which the remediation process was explained for Lexington Manor, where 42 new homes were built since 2001 on what was the Hamilton Sportsman's Association skeet-shooting range until 1969.
A year ago this week, the U.S. EPA declared the 26-acre site a superfund site. Soil samples revealed toxic lead levels of up to 10,000 parts per million. The federal standard for residential land is 400 parts per million, said Steve Renninger, U.S. EPA's on-scene coordinator.
Ryland Homes bought back most of the houses and agreed in August to pay for the cleanup around 32 homes, estimated to cost $2.5 million.
Kevin Engel, one of two families still residing in the subdivision, said he wasn't surprised by the small turnout.
"I think that's a good sign," said Engel, St. Xavier High School band director. "There has been a lot of over-reaction."
Jay Helson, one of two former residents at the meeting, said he was surprised to learn that a large concentration of lead 5 feet deep was found in his former back yard at 5938 Furlong Way, right under his children's play set.
"We had no idea it was that deep," said Helson, who moved to West Chester Township last July primarily to be closer to his children's Christian school in Mason.
"We had testing done ourselves. We knew we had some hot spots," Helson said.
Since excavation began two weeks ago, tainted soil has been removed from around seven homes.
It will be treated on site with a phosphate-based additive to stabilize the lead and prevent it from leaching. After processing, the soil will be "considered nonhazardous," Renninger said, and then trucked to the Epperson Waste Disposal landfill in Williamstown, Ky., or Rumpke in Colerain Township.
None of the houses, valued up to $354,000, will be demolished. Ryland plans to market them this fall.
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