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EPA Will Remove Contaminated Soil at Ithaca Falls Creek Gorge, N.Y.

Release Date: 09/09/2015
Contact Information: Michael Basile, 716-551-4410, basile.michael@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will remove lead contaminated soil this month at a property between the base of a cliff wall and a walkway at the Falls Creek Gorge in Ithaca, N.Y.

      The EPA collected samples of soil at the site in May and July after receiving requests from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the City of Ithaca. The city and state wanted the sampling because they plan to improve the public access area to the park at the base of the Falls Creek Gorge area. Because the samples showed elevated levels of lead in the soil, the area was barricaded and signs were installed in June to prevent public access.

      “Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to a child’s ability to learn and a range of health damage in adults,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Lead exposure can have serious, long-term health consequences in adults and children. Even at low levels, lead in children can cause I.Q. deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavioral problems.”

      Historically, the lead in the area is associated with the former Ithaca Gun Company that manufactured firearms and munitions between 1880 and 1986. After EPA test results indicated elevated levels of lead, the NYSDEC and the New York State Department of Health agreed that the EPA should remove the soil to protect public health and the environment.

      The EPA will remove approximately 200 cubic yards of loose stone and lead contaminated soil from a quarter of an acre on a steep slope and walkway in the Falls Creek Gorge. The material will be removed and disposed of at a facility licensed to accept the waste. The air will be monitored during the project to protect workers and the public.

      The EPA had previously removed more than 6,000 tons of soil and material contaminated with lead from the area between 2002 and 2004. That cleanup work was completed in late October 2004 at a cost of $4.8 million dollars. The current work is estimated to cost $400,000.

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