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Fact Sheet

September 2013

Frequently Asked Questions, Former Northwest Metals Study, Lincoln, Nebraska


In early 2013, after confirming that a metal smelting facility had been historically located southwest of the North Bottoms Neighborhood, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) conducted soil testing in the area. This testing identified some properties with lead levels that suggested additional testing should be performed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been asked to further investigate the presence of lead in the surface soils. Lead in residential soils can be attributed to a number of different sources ranging from the historical usage of lead-based paints, leaded gasoline, and pesticides, to contaminated fill material, naturally occurring lead in the soils, and atmospheric deposition from commercial activities.

This fact sheet attempts to address questions that residents of the North Bottoms Neighborhood or other nearby areas might ask.

What is the investigation and cleanup process?

EPA will sample properties to determine levels of lead contamination in yards. If these exceed health-based levels of concern, the homeowner will be notified as soon as possible and EPA will schedule a time to discuss potential options to address contamination.

Will landowners be required to allow access for sampling and cleanup of their properties? How does EPA work with individuals that do not want their property tested or cleaned up?

During the assessment phase, landowners that want their property sampled will need to sign an access agreement for sampling purposes.

If a property is found to have unacceptable levels of lead contamination in the soil, and a property owner (who is not a landlord) does not want the property cleaned up, EPA will not require cleanup at this time. However, if a cleanup option is offered and refused, the homeowner could be required to allow an environmental easement or restrictive covenant to be placed on the property so that future property owners will be aware of the presence of contaminants that exceed health-based levels of concern.

How does EPA obtain permission for sampling from absentee landowners? What if an absentee landowner wants to deny access?

EPA will attempt to locate the absentee landowner. EPA has had success in locating absentee landlords at other sites. The policies regarding access as outlined in the previous question apply to absentee landowners.

What properties will be sampled?

Properties located near the former Northwest Metals site that are potentially impacted by lead contamination from the former smelter will be sampled.

How can I obtain an access agreement?

Access agreements are being sent to property owners via mail or can be requested by calling Ben Washburn, EPA Region 7, at 800-223-0425 or 913-551-7364.

How quickly will I know if my yard exceeds acceptable lead levels?

After receiving a signed access agreement, EPA will sample soil in your yard for lead. The results will be provided to property owners and tenants after a thorough review of the data has been completed, usually within 5 to 6 weeks.

If my property screening results exceed health-based levels of concern, what actions might be taken?

EPA is committed to protecting the public health of all citizens. Decisions on what actions should be taken to protect public health will be based upon soil lead concentration levels, contaminant location and child usage. Actions can range from public education to soil removal.

Is there a cost to the homeowner?

Current EPA policy is to assess residential properties at no cost to the homeowner or current residents.

What about contaminated commercial properties?

EPA plans to prioritize contaminated properties that pose immediate health risks. Commercial properties typically pose a lower threat to children and the public. When warranted due to potential health concerns, EPA will assess these properties on a case-by-case basis.

Is there a website I can visit to learn more about this site?

All EPA information pertaining to this assessment will be listed on the EPA On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) website at www.epaosc.net, as information becomes available.


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

Ben Washburn
Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. EPA, Region 7
11201 Renner Blvd.
Lenexa, KS 66219
800-223-0425 or 913-551-7364

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