Thursday, May 15, 2003

Builder removes pellets on curbs


EPA concerned lead would wash into drains, ponds

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LIBERTY TWP. - At the direction of federal authorities, Ryland Homes dispatched workers Wednesday to its Lexington Manor subdivision - now a Superfund cleanup site - to remove lead pellets from street curbs.

The early morning work at Lexington Manor came at the prompting of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who feared the hazardous materials would flow with water in the curbs into storm sewer drains and ponds.

"They create a potential hazard," said Steven Renninger, an on-scene coordinator in the Superfund division of the U.S. EPA's Cincinnati office. He will oversee the Lexington Manor cleanup. "It could create lead contamination in the ponds."

Neighbors discovered the little pellets in the curbs outside their homes last week and even pointed them out to an Enquirer photographer and reporter.

Renninger said he learned of the pellets in the curbs on Monday. After he inspected and photographed them, he contacted Ryland.

A Ryland spokeswoman Wednesday referred comment to Renninger, but did confirm the work was done at the EPA's direction.

Lead pellets found in at least one yard at Lexington Manor also have contained extraordinarily high levels of arsenic, according to the EPA.

Lexington Manor was built in 2001 on 25 acres that used to hold a skeet shooting range. Lead shot that fell into the ground before the range shut down in 1969 remains in the land, and environmental officials have detected hazardously high levels of lead and arsenic.

Because of the immediate risk to humans, animals and the environment, the subdivision recently was declared a Superfund site. An extensive cleanup will begin this summer on at least 13 yards, possibly more.

Most of the homeowners have sued Ryland and others over the lead. Some want the national builder to buy back their homes, which range from $190,000 to $330,000.

Neighbors want tests

Meanwhile, neighbors who live behind the subdivision are upset the EPA still has not tested run-off water that has splashed into their yards.

Now, they wonder when their yards will be tested - and that concern has grown more urgent, they say, since the EPA confirmed last week other metals, such as arsenic, are now being discovered.

" Renninger said Wednesday that sampling outside the subdivision is planned, but the U.S. EPA must first hammer out a consent decree with the parties responsible for cleaning up the lead, Ryland Homes and the subdivision's developer, Lexington Manor Inc.

E-mail: jedwards@enquirer.com.




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