Monday, October 19, 2009

Feds to investigate Atlanta lead smelter

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 4:20 PM

The AJC's Alison Young had a great piece this weekend about a now-defunct smelter that for decades burned lead at an industrial site just blocks from Morningside. The site where the smelter was located — right where Piedmont Road crosses under I-85 — is now a concrete plant. But the residual pollution caused by the smelter has largely been forgotten by state and federal regulators.

How much lead dust rained down over the years and how far the winds blew is not currently known. But experts say that, despite the passage of decades, the lead would remain relatively near the surface unless the soil has been removed or buried under clean fill dirt. [...]

Tests conducted privately in 2003 show large swaths of the smelter property contained potentially dangerous levels of lead, above 400 parts per million (ppm), according to site plans and a soil removal permit issued by the city of Atlanta to contractors for the property’s owner at that time, Metalico of Georgia Inc. The testing was within the boundaries of the smelter property at 740 Lambert Drive NE.

After reading the story, a source who keeps a close eye on Georgia's environment told CL this weekend that he's curious about the smelter's proximity to Peachtree Creek. If floods seeped up toxins in nearby soil, they could have spread downstream.

Thanks to Young, the Environmental Protection Agency is assessing the matter. Kudos to the journalist for taking on this story on her own initiative and effecting some government action. Snippets don't do it justice, so go check it out in full.

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