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EPA Region 7 to Begin Issuing Orders to Obtain Access to Residential Properties in Omaha for Environmental Sampling

Release Date: 11/09/2011
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394, whitley.christopher@epa.gov

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Nov. 9, 2011) - EPA Region 7 will soon begin to issue administrative orders to a small group of residential property owners in Omaha, Neb., allowing the Agency legal access to those properties to conduct environmental sampling for toxic lead in soil and exterior paint, all at no cost to the property owners.

Under the authority of the Superfund program, EPA has been working in Omaha since 1999 to identify and remove lead from residential properties. To date, the Agency has sampled more than 39,000 properties in the city with the consent of owners, and soil remediation efforts have been completed at more than 9,900 of those properties. An estimated 4,200 properties remain in line for soil remediation.

Beginning this week, EPA will start issuing orders to a group of residential property owners who have refused the Agency’s previous requests for access to conduct environmental sampling. The first series of orders, which are being transmitted by letters, will go to six landlords who own multiple residential properties in Omaha.

EPA anticipates that potentially it may need to issue similar administrative compliance orders for as many as 900 residential properties in Omaha where owners so far have not allowed the Agency access to conduct sampling. EPA has the authority to seek judicial orders against owners who refuse to comply with the new administrative orders.

“EPA needs to sample this last group of properties in order to complete its mission to protect public health in Omaha,” Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “We’re confident that as property owners come to understand EPA’s reasons and methods for this sampling, they will join in this mission to protect current and future generations of Omaha’s children from lead poisoning.”

Sampling of a typical residential property involves the collection of a total of about two cups of soil from various locations on the property. It may also involve collection of small samples of exterior paint, to determine if chipping or peeling paint contains lead, which can contaminate residential soil as it falls from a home. All sampling is conducted at no cost to property owners. Results of tests on samples are provided to property owners, and if EPA determines that any soil replacement or lead cleanup work is necessary, that work will be done at no cost to owners.

Property owners with questions about sampling activity are encouraged to call EPA’s Public Information Center in Omaha, 402-731-3045.

Children six years and younger, and pregnant women, are at greatest risk of suffering adverse health effects from exposure to toxic lead. Ingesting lead, typically by breathing dust or putting dirty fingers in mouths, can result in serious developmental delays or defects, behavior problems, seizures, nerve disorders and reproductive issues, among other effects.

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Learn more about the hazards of lead exposure

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