Neighbors assured homes will be left alone - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Neighbors assured homes will be left alone

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By: Bill Schammert

People in the North Bottoms neighborhood recently found out they could have elevated levels of lead in their yard.  But, at a meeting Tuesday night, they were more worried about the city coming for their homes.

"What are the plans for the North Bottoms, not just the soil, but what are the industrial plans," homeowner Dana Rodriguez questioned.

It's the concern expressed by many of the more than two dozen that attended the informational meeting about a recent lead study.

After the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality received information that there could be a problem with air emissions from the old Northwestern Metal Factory, they asked neighbors to test the soil.

Out of the 70 asked, they received permission to test 20 homes.  They found elevated levels of lead - 400 parts per million - in the soil of nine of those homes.

But Sue Dempsey with public health says not to be too worried.

"It's similar to any other older neighborhood in Lincoln as far as elevated levels. There were some high drip zone areas, but I don't see any great alarm," Dempsey said after the meeting.

She says the important thing to do is keep kids out of the dirt, wash their hands and keep homegrown produce clean. 

Still, the EPA has been notified for further testing.

As for weather the DEQ is coming for the North Bottoms Neighborhood, Mike Felix with the DEQ says homeowners can rest assured.

"If levels are elevated enough there may be future action, but that would just be removing soil from the yard, it has nothing do with any other development or expansion plans," Felix said.

However, it could be weeks before the DEQ receives the testing back from the EPA.

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